Convenient Collection Sites
Items Accepted
Why Use These Locations
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It’s easy to protect your family, pets, and the environment from waste medicines and sharps. Take unwanted household medicines and used sharps from your home to any convenient collection site around our county.

As of September 1, 2008, it is illegal to discard used sharps in the garbage or recycling, and used sharps must be transported in an approved sharps container.


Household Medicines and Sharps Collection
— the answer to a growing problem.

Bring in home-generated waste medicines and sharps to any convenient drop-off site around Santa Cruz County

What are “Sharps”?
Sharps include: hypodermic needles, pen needles, intravenous needles, lancets, or anything else used to deliver medicine through the skin.

Be Safe
Dispose of old medicines and sharps promptly and properly. Why? Old medicines can be taken accidentally, which can result in poisoning. Home medicine cabinets are the prime source of prescription drugs abused by teens. Drugs kept in the home should be monitored, stored securely, and properly disposed of when no longer being used. And used sharps are dangerous, as they pose the threat of needle stick injury. These needles and lancets should be stored in a puncture-proof red sharps container.

Be Informed
Medicines and sharps should not be thrown in the trash or flushed down the toilet. Medicines flushed down the toilet cannot be detoxified by sewage treatment plants – they go right into the bay where they can adversely affect marine life. Syringes or pen needles in the garbage or recycling can prick sanitation workers, and these workers might contract a deadly communicable disease.

What to do?
Take waste medicines and sharps to a collection site. Most pharmacies in the county offer this take-back service. Bring unused or expired pills in a plastic bag, liquid medicines in their vials, and used sharps in a protective red sharps container.

What’s an approved sharps container?
Approved sharps containers are rigid, puncture resistant boxes of various sizes made of hard plastic, usually red, with a lid that can be securely sealed to keep contents from falling out, and clearly marked with the bio-hazard symbol. New sharps containers are available at each site that accepts sharps.

What Medicines Can I Bring?
Items accepted with medicines include: prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines, medicine samples, pet medicines, vitamins, medicated ointments and lotions, inhalers, and liquid medication in glass or leakproof containers.

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Collaborative program coordinated by the County of Santa Cruz with the Cities of Santa Cruz, Watsonville, Capitola, and Scotts Valley.
Funded by local governments, wastewater treatment facilities, and local pharmacies.
© 2013 County of Santa Cruz, Department of Public Works, Recycling and Solid Waste Services.