Unwanted, unused and expired prescription drugs can be safely disposed of for free at participating locations or with a free mail-back envelope. The Vermont Department of Health offer mailers and maintains a map of medication disposal sites throughout the state as well as other information about Vermont’s Prescription Drug Disposal System. The Middlebury and Bristol Village Police Departments accept prescription pills, patches, liquids, aerosols, and have some availability to accept sharps. Please call ahead for more information (the Bristol Police Department specifically requests residents to call ahead before dropping off). The Marble Works Pharmacies in Middlebury, Bristol, and Vergennes also offer collection of prescription drugs as well as over-the-counter medications.
Where collections for over-the-counter medications don't exist and no disposal instructions come with the product, most medicines can be mixed with unpalatable substances such as dirt, cat litter, or used coffee grounds, then placed in a container such as a sealed bag and thrown in your household trash. Remember to delete all personal information from the prescription label. Pill bottles must be at least two inches in diameter to be put in your blue bin for recycling; small pill bottles are trash.
Do not put pharmaceuticals down the drain! Water treatment plants and septic tanks are not designed to remove these chemicals, and they can adversely affect aquatic life and all animals (including ourselves) if they wind up in the watershed.
The following additional types of medications should also be kept out of the trash:
- Head lice shampoo – accepted at the District Transfer Station HazWaste Center.
- Chemotherapy drugs – seek disposal advice from a healthcare professional.
- Anti-neoplastic medicine – seek disposal advice from a healthcare professional.
It is free to dispose of prescription drugs at participating disposal sites and through the Vermont Department of Health's mail-back program. Some pharmacies also accept over-the-counter medications for safe disposal for free. Otherwise, please follow the instructions above for safe disposal in your household trash.