Medicines & Sharps Disposal

To prevent harm to our environment, never flush medicines down the toilet or the sink.  Water treatment facilities are unable to remove the medicines from the waste water. Medicines may still be present in the clean effluent returned to the Bay and may harm aquatic organisms and eventually fish and wildlife along the food chain. The presence of some pharmaceuticals has been linked to abnormalities and impaired reproductive performance in some aquatic species. U.S. Geological Survey studies have found medicines, including hormone medications, antidepressants, and antibiotics, in our nation's waterways. These medicines are from improper disposal of unwanted drugs flushed down sinks and toilets, and are also excreted in human waste. Scientists are studying the possible impacts on humans and marine life when exposed to these drugs. Medicines are considered hazardous waste and should not to be flushed down drains. You can minimize potential problems by safely disposing of unused medicines.

Proper Disposal of Medicine

New!  Quick link to medication disposal locations or see below.

  1. Drop off medications at the Mountain View Police & Fire Administration Main Lobby, 1000 Villa Street, Mountain View.  Lobby open daily 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. -- drop off in designated box in the lobby.  Visit this link for more information.
  2. Drop off medications at the Valley Health Center, Main Lobby, 660 S. Fair Oaks Av., Sunnyvale (box in lobby).  Lobby hours are Monday-Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  3. Drop off medications at the West Valley Sheriff Station, 1601 s. De Anza Blvd., Cupertino (408) 868-6600.  Hours are Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  4. Check for special days offered by the Mountain View Police & Fire Departments for medications disposal in collaboration with local pharmacies (650-903-6224). 
  5. Check with your Pharmacy or Medical Provider (e.g. Walgreens, Kaiser, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, El Camino Hospital) for take-back programs for patients and customers.
  6. Drop off medications at the Palo Alto Regional Water Quality Control Plant, 2501 Embarcadero Way, Palo Alto (Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (650) 329-2122).  You can also drop off the medications at their household hazardous waste events (every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11 am.; and the first Friday of each month from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.)    You do not need to be a Palo Alto resident to drop off medications at the plant.
  7. Residents may also safely dispose of medicines in the trash as a last resort. The trash is contained in a sanitary landfill.
  8. NEVER flush medications down the toilet or pour them down the sink because medicines can pollute our waterways, harming fish and wildlife.

Sharps Disposal

State law prohibits a person from placing home-generated sharps in their trash or recycling containers.  Home-generated sharps are defined as disposable hypodermic needles, syringes, lancets, and other medical devices used for self-injection or blood test. To safely dispose of your used home-generated sharps, place them in a biohazard sharps container.  There are a few places to safely dispose of sharps.

  • Contact your personal physician, clinic administrator, or pharmacist and ask if they have a take-back program in place. 
  • If you purchase sharps on-line, please remember to request a pre-addressed, prepaid mail-back box for your used sharps. 
  • Residents may drop off sharps at the SMaRT Station, 301 Carl Road, Sunnyvale, at the Drop Off Center (red metal dumpster).
  • The Countywide Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Program has a list of drop-off locations and other important information about approved sharps containers. They also accepts home-generated sharps.

Safe Medication Disposal Day

Prescription drugs Take-Back events

Periodically, the Police and Fire Departments sponsor a free safe medication disposal day a few times a year.  These events are operated by the City of Mountain View Police and Fire Departments.  Call (650) 903-6224 for more information.