Whenever you have a clear out, you’ll undoubtedly find a range of old medicines that you stopped taking before finishing your prescription or expired painkillers. It’s essential that you dispose of your old medicines correctly to prevent pollution of the environment. When you flush your old medication down the drain, you risk causing harmful imbalances in rivers and lakes, damaging the local eco-system. By following these simple and easy pieces of advice, you can safely dispose of your medication.
Always complete your prescriptions
You make think you’ve been cured before your prescription finishes, but not finishing antibiotic prescriptions can enable bacteria to develop antibiotic resistant strains, leading to future health crises.
Don’t buy in bulk
Just because it may be cheaper per pill, don’t buy a large bottle of aspirin or other over-the-counter painkillers unless you know you’re going to finish it before the expiration date.
Keep your medications in their original containers
The labels on your medicine bottles will contain essential information about the medication and usually bottles benefit from childproof caps.
Don’t put any medical sharps in the rubbish
You should be given a special box for any used medical sharps you have, and you should never put them in your regular rubbish. Used medical sharps present a public health risk and could cause a lot of damage to any wildlife that encounter it.
Take your unwanted medicines to a pharmacy
Pharmacies will have the knowledge and facilities to safely dispose of your old medicines in a way that doesn’t put other people or the environment at risk. They will also be able to advise you on what to do with any used medical sharps or used dressings.
If you can’t make it to a pharmacy with your old medicines, there are a few things you can do to minimise the risks of disposing of your medications.
- Add vinegar to pills or capsules as a way to partially dissolve them, and in the case of liquid medicines, add salt or safe spices to make them smelly and unappealing. This is will prevent animals mistakenly ingesting them after you’ve thrown them away.
- After you’ve made the medication unappealing, tape the medication bottle in duct tape and try to place it in an opaque container, such as an ice cream box. Then put it safely in your rubbish bin, ready for collection.