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Proper Medication Disposal

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Welcome to the West Michigan Take Back Meds Safe Medication Disposal Toolkit. This toolkit was developed as a joint project by the Kent County Department of Public Works and the Kent County Health Department to educate the community about the proper way to dispose of unused, unwanted or expired prescription and over-the-counter medications.  Funding to create the toolkit was provided by the 2012 Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Community Pollution Prevention Grant Program.

Reasons for not using all medications

People may not always use all of their medications. As a result, some might remain in their medicine cabinets and eventually expire.

  • Package contains more medication than needed (e.g. over-the-counter or prescription medicines bought in bulk)

  • Improvement of the medical condition

  • Medication discontinued due to side effects or lack of improvement

  • Death

These are the concerns

Improperly disposing of unwanted medications either by flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash represents an emerging concern for the environment and public health.

  • Medications that end up in landfills eventually seep into the area ground water.  Those flushed down the toilet pass through the sewage treatment plants and then are released into the waterways.

  • Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem particularly with teens and young adults. The medications are legal and easy to get. They often come from home or the home of a relative or friend. Many who misuse these drugs mistakenly believe they are safer than illegal drugs.

  • Medications thrown in the trash can be stolen and used possibly causing illness or death. Children and pets could find them which could lead to unintentional poisonings. Medicines thrown away with personal information on the labels could result in identity theft.

West Michigan Take Back Meds
Safe Medication Disposal Toolkit

Toolkit contains the following information:

A Note About Household Generated Sharps

Improperly discarded medical sharps can injure family members, animals, waste management workers and end up in places where they are a danger to the public. These sharps are a hazard because they may be contaminated with disease causing bacteria or viruses. The West Michigan Take Back Meds Program DOES NOT accept sharps (needles, lancets, syringes, or epipens). 

For information on how to safely dispose of these items, please visit the following sources:

Additional Resources

The West Michigan Take Back Meds Program is a joint effort between local pharmacies, law enforcement, wastewater treatment facilities, and government agencies to provide residents with safe, convenient access to proper medicine disposal.


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Holland Board of Public Works

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City of Wyoming

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City of Grand Rapids

County of Kent & Kent County Health Department

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Michigan Department of Environmental Quality

Contact Us

Health Department


700 Fuller Avenue NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503


Public Health Clinics

(616) 632-7100

(616) 632-7083

Mark Hall, MD, MPH
Medical Director

Adam London, RS, MPA
Administrative Health Officer

Animal Shelter

740 Fuller Avenue NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Monday-Friday: 9:30am-6:30pm
Closed for Lunch:
Monday-Friday: 1:00pm-2:00pm
Adoptions end 1 hour prior to closing.
Closed Saturday & Sunday

(616) 632-7300

(616) 632-7324

Environmental Health Services

700 Fuller Avenue NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

(616) 632-6900

(616) 632-6892

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