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Sharps and Medication Disposal

What do I do with my old medications? 

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has set up designated locations to drop them off. Go online to

The program accepts and destroys unused and expired over-the-counter and prescription medications generated by households. All locations accept prescribed controlled substances (i.e., Percocet, Vicodin, Xanax, Ritalin and Adderall).

Medications may be deposited in their original containers, but you can help conserve space in collection bins by pouring pills/capsules into a zip-top bag and then trashing or recycling containers separately. 

Strike out personal information on pill containers before depositing in collection bins or trashing/recycling them. Do not deposit excessive packaging, like cardboard boxes, in the collection bins. Accepting locations can be found at:

Can be accepted: 

  • Prescription medications, including prescribed controlled substances (DEA Schedule II– V).
  • Over-the-counter medications.
  • Liquid medications (small amounts in original, non-leaking containers).
  • Medicated patches (Used Fentanyl and Duragesic® patches are extremely hazardous. They may be folded in half, sticky-side together, and flushed down the toilet.)
  • Medication samples.
  • Medicated ointments.
  • Vitamins.
  • Pet medications.
  • Unused drug injection cartridges, e.g. unused EpiPens® and insulin pens (must be unused with needle still protected inside).
  • Unused inhaler canisters, e.g. Advair®, Spiriva®, ProAir® and Ventolin® (must be unused, no empty canisters or unneeded plastic holders/mouth pieces).

Cannot be accepted:

  • Marijuana.
  • Illicit drugs (e.g. DEA Schedule I drugs like heroin, LSD, etc).
  • Needles, syringes, and other sharps.
  • Chemotherapy drugs.
  • Medical tools and supplies.
  • Bloody or infectious waste.
  • Personal care products.
  • Thermometers.
  • Empty containers.
  • Medication wastes generated by health care facilities, including nursing homes.


What do I do with my old sharps (needles)? 

There are designated locations that accept home medication needles (sharps). Go online to or More detailed information, instructions, and drop off locations can be found on these websites.


  1. Purchase a commercially available sharps container from a pharmacy or other source, or use a strong plastic or metal container with a screw-on or tightly secured lid to prevent accidental contact with the waste.
    1. Containers like empty bleach bottles, liquid detergent bottles and heavy plastic jugs are strong enough to prevent the sharps from poking through the container and have lids that can be securely fastened.  
    2. A coffee can may also be used as long as the lid is sealed with strong tape once the container is full. 
    3. Plastic milk containers are a poor choice because they're generally made of thin plastic that can be easily punctured by a needle or lancet.  
    4. Do not use plastic water bottles, soda bottles, or similar.
    5. Glass should never be used as a sharps container because the glass can break and make the hazard worse.
  2. Label the container as “Used Sharps” if your household is not using a commercially-available container.
  3. Once filled, the container should be firmly sealed to prevent accidental tampering. When the container is ¾ full, put the lid on, seal it with duct tape and label, “DO NOT RECYCLE”
  4. Store the sealed sharps container away from children and pets. 
  5. Place the sealed sharps container in your trash on the day it gets picked up or taken to the landfill.  

Note: Never put a container of sharps in with your recyclables.  

  • Sharps are not recyclable, and not only can they pose an infection risk to workers at the recycling facility, they can render the whole batch of recyclables unusable.
  • Used needles and other sharps should never be placed loosely in your trash or flushed down the toilet. 
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