State offers drug take-back boxes, safe disposal

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Medication collection events and programs are part of a nationwide effort to reduce the amount of pharmaceutical products being flushed or poured down drains.

Prescription drug take-back boxes provide a place where unused prescription drugs can be safely disposed. These boxes prevent prescription and over-the-counter medications from getting into the hands of children and into waterways.

They make sure they are disposed of in a safe, environmentally-friendly manner.

There is a list of pharmaceuticals that can be collected:

  • Prescriptions
  • Liquid medications (in leak-proof containers)
  • Medicated ointment, lotions, or drops
  • Pills in any packaging (glass bottles, plastic containers, plastic bags, etc.)
  • Over-the-counter liquid medications (in leak-proof containers)  
  • Pet medications

Items not accepted include:

  • Blood sugar equipment
  • Needles
  • Illegal drugs & narcotics (Police departments will accept these items if placed in the container)
  • Thermometers
  • IV bags
  • Bloody or infectious waste
  • Personal care products (shampoo, lotions, etc.)

The state hosts special events throughout the year to collect Hazardous Waste such as needles, thermometers and personal care products. You can visit the state’s website to find dates for those collection events.

Drug take-back boxes are available in every county across the state. There are 16 take-back boxes in Knox County. To find the one nearest you, you can visit the Department of Environment & Conservation’s take back map.

At-Home Disposal

You should not flush or pour medications down the drain at your home.

The Tennessee Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services suggest you remove medication from original packaging and mix with an undesirable substance, such kitty litter or used coffee grounds. Place the mixture in a bag and throw in your trash container.

Remove and destroy any personal information on the empty medicine container and recycle the empty container.

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