Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant and University of Illinois Extension

Disposal of Unwanted Medicines: A Resource for Action in Your Community

The Disposal of Unwanted Medicines: A Resource for Action in Your Community toolkit was developed to help communities design, establish, and implement safe and legal medicines collection programs. The entire toolkit is available for download, or select just the chapters you need by clicking on the links below. To order a CD version of the toolkit (Free + shipping), visit our Products page.

Download Full Disposal of Unwanted Medicines PDF (255 Pages)

Chapter 1 : Introduction and Background
Provides information about the risks of unsafe medicine storage and disposal and an overview of the types of pharmaceuticals found in the environment and how they get there.

Chapter 2: Unwanted Medicine Take-back Programs: Case Studies
Covers information about single-day, continuous drop-off, and mail-back programs as well as descriptions of initiatives in Australia, British Columbia, and the European Union.

Chapter 3: How to Hold a Successful Unwanted Medicine Collection Event
Contains a step-by-step manual for developing a collection program, and addresses regulatory requirements that you need to consider when dealing with controlled substances and hazardous materials.

Chapter 4: Materials for Public Outreach and Education
Includes examples of public education materials that can be useful to raise awareness and promote action. Local, state, and national programs developed the materials. The outreach materials presented in the toolkit can be adapted and used by other communities to save time and funds. All materials are provided in pdf format; other formats may be available from the original authors.

Chapter 5: State Legislation Regarding Disposal and Donation of Medicines
Addresses state and national legislation regarding medicine disposal from residential sources.

Chapter 6. International Policy on Medicine Donations
Discusses some of the problems caused by donation of medications to humanitarian relief efforts. This practice, while driven by the best of intentions, has proven to be a major problem for aid organizations. Although a charitable donation may appear to be a good use for leftover medicines, it is often inadvisable. The items received at a community collection event are not eligible for donation.

Chapter 7: Bibliography of Literature on Pharmaceutical Chemicals and the Environment
Includes articles related to unwanted medicines and other pharmaceuticals in the environment from scientific journals, newspapers, magazines, and radio.

Chapter 8. PowerPoint Presentations
Provides a PowerPoint presentation created by Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant that serves as a primer on the topic of unwanted medicine disposal and pharmaceutical chemicals in the environment.


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