Medicines & Sharps Disposal

What's In Your Water?

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

Drop off medications throughout the year at any of the locations below, or click on the link to the map below.  See also Events below.

NEVER flush medications down the toilet or pour them down the sink because medicines can pollute our waterways, harming fish and wildlife.  As a last resort, residents may also safely dispose of medicines in the trash, which is contained in a sanitary landfill.

Drop Off Locations

Map link to all medication disposal locations.

Mountain View Police & Fire Administration
Main Lobby - Designated Box
1000 Villa Street 
Lobby hours:  Monday - Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Visit this link for more information or call 650-903-6224

Valley Health Center
Main Lobby - Designated BoxMap Medications Drop Off Locations
660 S. Fair Oaks Av., Sunnyvale
Lobby hours:  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.

West Valley Sheriff Station
1601 S. De Anza Blvd., Cupertino
(408) 868-6600  
Lobby hours:  Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Palo Alto Regional Water Quality Control Plant
2501 Embarcadero Way, Palo Alto
Lobby Hours:  Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
(650) 329-2122. 

Pharmacy or Medical Providers
Walgreens, Kaiser, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, El Camino Hospital
Many of these locations have a take-back program for their customers or patients. 


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.

  • Drop Off Locations List
  • 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 Fire Department has a Sharps Box in the lobby at the Fire/Administration Building in Mountain View.  
  • The Countywide Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Program has a list of drop-off locations and other important information about approved sharps containers. They also accept home-generated sharps.

Police & Fire Safety EvenTS

Periodically, the Police and Fire Departments sponsor safety events a few times a year, which might include drug (medications) take-back, document shredding and e-waste.  Visit or call (650) 903-6224 for more information.