Fact Sheet: Safe disposal of Medicine. This information will change beginning December 1, 2023, with the Drug Take-Back Act manufacturer collection program (see below)
Safe Use and Disposal of Medicine
- Medicines should always be used as directed and securely stored
- Unused or unwanted medicines should NOT be flushed down the toilet or poured into the sink
- Never burn pharmaceuticals or personal care products in a burn barrel. Uncontrolled burning can create dioxins and other air pollutants
- Proper disposal can help to prevent accidental poisoning, substance abuse, and contamination of water resources
- Bring your expired and unused medications to an approved location that is convenient for you and can be found on the Collection Site Map
Drug Take-Back Act
On June 10, 2022, Governor Pritzker signed the Drug Take-Back Act into law. Beginning December 1, 2023, every Illinois county will be entitled to at least one medication collection location per 50,000 residents that is financed by pharmaceutical manufacturers. These collection locations will accept both controlled and non-controlled substances free of charge.
The Drug Take-Back Act establishes a series of deadlines for pharmaceutical manufacturers, pharmacies, and potential collection locations between January 1 and December 1, 2023. Every manufacturer of a covered drug, as defined in the Drug Take-Back Act, that is sold or offered for sale in Illinois must register with Illinois EPA and remit the $2,500 registration fee no later than January 1, 2023. A copy of the Manufactuer registration form is available below. Completed forms may be submitted electronically to EPA.Recycling@illinois.gov. The registration fee may be paid online or by a check submitted to:
Illinois Environmental Protection Agency
Attn: Materials Management and Compliance Section- Mail Code #24
1021 North Grand Avenue East, PO Box 19276
Springfield, Illinois 62794-9276
Additional information will be added to this site in 2023 addressing updates to plans and the program. Programmatic deadlines are detailed further below.
By July 1, 2023, each covered manufacturer must individually or collectivelly submit to Illinois EPA for review and approval a proposal for the establishment and implementation of a drug take-back program. Illinois EPA has 90 days from receipt to review the proposals. During this period, Illinois EPA shall provide a 30-day public comment period on the proposals.
Program Plans submitted July 1, 2023:
Collection Site locations continue to be added. Please contact Med-Project or Inmar for the most updated list.
Public Comment Period closed end of business day August 7, 2023.
Information concerning addendums to the Plans and Illinois EPA's review may be requested by contacting EPA.Recycling@Illinois.gov.
On September 26, 2023, Illinois EPA approved both Program Proposals for the Drug Take-Back Act Program implementation and establishment in Illinois.
Medicine Collection Programs
The best way to dispose of unwanted medicine is through a collection program. These programs include local collections offered by pharmacies and police departments, including several sites sponsored by the Cook County Sheriff's Office, mail-back programs, manufacturer-supported collections for specific medications and household hazardous waste collections. Below is a list of items that are commonly accepted and prohibited at these publicly available collection events.
Commonly Accepted Items
Commonly Prohibited Items
Unwanted medicines should be delivered to the collection location in the original container, if possible. Be sure to first blackout or remove any personal information from the container. If you have any questions about disposal options for your specific medication, please contact your pharmacist.
Illinois EPA Medication Takeback Program
Subject to available funding, the Illinois EPA provides disposal of medications collected from residents at partnering collection sites across the state. Effective December 1, 2023, the Drug Take-Back Act requires the implementation of a manufacturer lead collection program. More information will be provided on this page as the plans and programs are developed.
Flushing medicines or pouring them down the sink can create the potential for harmful chemicals to end up in our lakes, rivers, streams, and drinking water. In fact, traces of some medicines have been found in water samples in 30 states, which have been connected to harmful impacts on localized aquatic ecosystems. More information on the public health impacts of misusing pharmaceuticals is available from the Illinois Department of Public Health.
If necessary, some medicines may be disposed of with other household garbage. To ensure safe handling, those medicines should be mixed with coffee grounds, kitty litter, or saw dust in a sealed disposable container before placing with other household waste.