How to throw away a trash can

How to throw away a trash can

Living in Geneva or Paris, when you need to throw away an empty bottle, you would normally look for designated recycling bins for glass or plastic bottles to be separately collected and processed. You would bring a broken toaster to a local electrical goods store, and expired medicines to a pharmacy nearby, so that these unwanted but potentially dangerous products won’t end up with the household waste and will be disposed of properly. However, in some places in the UNECE region you would need to spend quite some time looking for a simple rubbish bin on a central street, not to speak of a separate bin for recyclables.

How to throw away a trash can

There is no UNECE convention or standard on separate waste collection. Each country develops its own legislation and policies regulating waste management. Nevertheless, at UNECE we promote the upgrade and coherence of environmental policies and practice across the region through our Environmental Performance Reviews (EPRs). EPRs are done for each country from the Caucasus, Central Asia and Eastern and South-Eastern Europe every 5-7 years to see what has been achieved and what needs to be improved in terms of environmental laws, policies and their implementation. The reviews provide recommendations tailored to the specific circumstances and capacities of each country and promote cooperation among countries in introducing better solutions for the environment.

Let’s come back to the example of rubbish bins. In Tajikistan the EPR in 2010 recommended developing a system for the separate collection of recyclable waste. Since then, the collection of fluorescent lamps has started. However, Tajikistan still generally lacks recycling infrastructure, except for recycling of scrap metals and paper. A major challenge for waste management, identified in the ongoing third EPR of Tajikistan, is increasing the collection coverage for municipal solid waste. Currently, collection is only provided for 80 per cent of the urban and 15 per cent of the rural population. Increasing collection coverage is also a particular problem in view of the continuing increase in the volume of waste generation in the country.

How to throw away a trash can

In Belarus, separate collection is available in the capital and in district centres for dry (paper, plastics, glass) and for wet (biodegradable) waste. The system for dealing with special waste streams (e.g., tyres, waste oil, refrigerators or TV sets) became operational in 2013. The key challenge for the country is the transformation of disposal practice, from small disposal sites to modern regionally controlled landfills, which would allow for better control of their impact on human health and the environment. Here, the 2015 EPR of Belarus includes recommendations to the country on how to phase out or rehabilitate “mini” dumpsites.

Enhancing municipal solid waste management, introducing the extended producer responsibility principle, improving tariff policies for waste management, applying specific measures for medical, industrial, mining, construction and other waste, and addressing the problem of historical waste from abandoned industrial facilities are just few of the policy measures promoted through EPRs to improve waste management across the UNECE region. Similarly, EPRs support countries in improving air quality, tackling water pollution, managing the protected natural areas and integrating environmental protection in transport, energy, agriculture, industry and health policies.

Serious Question: How do you throw away a garbage can?

No really. I’m serious about this one. I recently moved into a home that has three random garbage cans that are busted or old in the back yard.

As they are pretty useless, I decided it was best for me to toss them.

The problem? How do you throw them away?

It seems obvious, put it down with the trash. When I ask friends and family this question, they usually respond with just that, you just put it down with the trash!

But as they finish the seemingly correct answer, their brow will suddenly furrow and they realize the conundrum.

Garbage men empty garbage cans, they don’t take them!

So I’ve had some ideas.

#1. Put a sign on them

#2. Crush them and put them in the “keeper” garbage can

#3. Put them in a large black commercial garbage bag.

#4. Stand outside at 6 am and tell the garbage men to take them.

#5. Buy more and play giant beer pong.

I am still not sure how to proceed. What do you think? How should I throw away a garbage can? Let me know in the comments below!

Leave a comment

How to throw away a trash can

Welcome to ChicagoNow.

Meet our bloggers,
post comments, or
pitch your blog idea.

Subscribe by Email

Completely spam free, opt out any time.


    (129) (14) (8) (1) (1)

Recent posts

Local Woman Sets Out to Save Monarch Population and Loses Shoe »

The Index Cards of Covid »

LakeShake Day Two: Warmer. Drier. Bigger. »

LakeShake 2018 Off to a Fun Start Despite Cold Rainy Night »

Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Sixteen »

Monthly Archives

Meet The Blogger

Katie Moler

I love trying ethnic foods. Give me Pad See Ew over a burger any day. I hate eating meat off the bone because I am empathetic towards poor animals in meat factories. Hell- I rarely eat meat at all and envy vegans for their will power. I want to be you. But seriously, Cheese? I enjoy nerdy activities like knitting, coloring in adult coloring books (as in for adult, not naked people. come on now), and playing the same board games I was playing when I was 10 years old. Don't get me wrong- I love going out on the town, too. It's just that I'm more likely to get into trouble. you know the sort where you ruin your sister's shirt with a random cup of Hawaiian punch that was sitting on the sidewalk or where you ruin your best friends shirt with a shot of Katiemeister- eh I mean, Jagermeister. Basically, don't wear nice shirts around me when I'm drinking. Granted, this was the past version of me. Now I don't drink. Read that again. I know, right?! Truth is I enjoy life from my couch, sitting by my overly annoying cat, eating guacamole and watching documentaries, sci-fi shows, or Schitt's Creek on Netflix. I'm recently single; not by choice. I'm a bachelors and masters grad who is done with formal education and regrets ever attending college. I'm very hard to put into a category and I recently learned it's okay to be your own person. I'm a traveler which is probably my favorite thing about myself. I used to love to read but now do it through Audible. I work to live but I don't live to work (sorry work- I do love you though). My side hustle, selling dry nail polish, is a different story though. One day, I hope to be making 6 figures doing this, living in an RV, traveling the country. Oh yea- and I have the benefit that my nail polish doesn't spill. This is somewhat of a conundrum as I am not a girly girl. I don't wear dresses often. Any jewelry I'm gifted will be lost. I have no idea when it's okay to wear white and that's okay with me. I wear the same Teva sandals every day, almost year round. I envy the way most European countries live and will probably vote for a president that takes us that way even if it means higher taxes. I love to sing but will pass out if you try to put me on stage. In the past I've made my own lip balms, foot soaks and other natural goodies to sell on Etsy. I once created a darkroom for processing black and white film inside a 1 bedroom Chicago apartment. I currently raise monarch butterflies in an RV names, you guessed it, "The Rooted Wanderer". I support student loan reform, gay rights (I still won't spend money in Indiana due to their Shenanigan's), Alzheimer's Research. In fact, my brother runs one of the top fundraising teams in Kankakee County. Recently, I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. I am a huge supporter of Mental Health awareness, not just because of my own life with PTSD, Major Depressive Disorder, and now BPD, but because it is so absolutely misunderstood and stigmatized.

As it happens, many of the somewhat innocuous items we encounter every day are actually quite toxic in certain situations — even the lights right above our heads. Fluorescent bulbs are a buzzing, commonplace fixture of many stores, offices, and schools, and the questions regarding how to properly dispose of fluorescent bulbs are just as common. Luckily, we’ve managed to track down a few safe and eco-friendly ways of doing so. 

How do fluorescent lights work?

According to Hunker, fluorescent light bulbs work similarly to incandescent bulbs in that they both use electricity to heat up an element inside a glass container full of inert gas. The result in both cases is light, though fluorescent bulbs last much longer and burn much brighter than incandescent ones. 

The element inside of fluorescent bulbs contains small amounts of liquid mercury, a very useful though highly toxic metal that reacts with the inert argon gas inside of the bulb to create light. This mercury is what causes the fluorescent bulb's added brilliance and it’s also what makes them so controversial in terms of disposal. 

Here's how to dispose of fluorescent bulbs:

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that consumers looking to dispose of fluorescent bulbs avail themselves of the recycling programs in their local area. Because of the mercury, the EPA considers fluorescent bulbs to be hazardous waste, which cannot be disposed of through normal means. 

Can I throw out my fluorescent bulbs?

You certainly can, but you absolutely should not, for several reasons. First, most sanitation departments are strictly forbidden from taking fluorescent lightbulbs. Putting them out to the curb with the rest of your garbage could spell trouble for you and your sanitation workers. Fluorescent bulbs are very breakable and can shatter into a million pieces if they are not handled correctly. This would not be so bad, if not for the individual components within the bulbs themselves — namely, the mercury. 

Releasing that mercury into the environment would be bad. The substance is quite toxic, even debilitating or deadly in some cases, according to the World Health Organization. It’s also not great for plants, soil, or wildlife, so throwing your old fluorescent bulbs out with the regular trash could pose a danger to yourself, your trusty sanitation workers, and the environment. 

According to the EPA, the following states specifically prohibit mercury-containing lamps from being discarded into landfills: 

  • California
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • New Hampshire 
  • Vermont
  • Washington

Can fluorescent bulbs be recycled?

Yes, fluorescent bulbs can be recycled. If handled properly, the glass, metals, and other material components can all be recycled into other products. Of course, you’ll have to find out if there are any recycling or disposal sites in your area first. You can’t just put them out with the cans and bottles. Also, note that some states and local jurisdictions have more stringent collection methods than others. 

Where to recycle fluorescent bulbs:

As with paint, antifreeze, and motor oil, recycling fluorescent bulbs might require a little extra homework. Call or check your municipality's website for information on recycling fluorescent bulbs. They might provide pickup times and locations for such materials. Many hardware stores and nationwide hardware retailers also offer in-store recycling of hazardous materials, though not every one of these accepts fluorescent bulbs. Even those that do accept them might only take the smaller fluorescent bulbs and not the 4-foot ones. 

Home Depot’s website explains that customers can bring their old fluorescent bulbs to the store for free recycling, though it might be a good idea to call and ask if your local store has any restrictions first. If you’re still not sure where to bring your old bulbs, a great online resource is Earth911's search tool. 

Place this item loose in your recycling bin. If the item is large, it is considered bulky and should be brought to the “silver bullets” or transfer station in your town. Recyclables should be kept loose in bins. Do not dispose of them in plastic bags.

How do you disguise a garbage can?

How to Hide Garbage Cans Outside: Use a Privacy Screen. For your outdoor row of trash bins, keep things classy and stick them behind a screen. Simply tuck your bins against the side of your house, and wrap a big privacy screen around it. If you choose lattice, you can transform it into a living wall of greenery!

How do you fix a smelly garbage can?

It’s simple: add 1/4 cup of baking soda to the can in the morning. By the evening when the trash is ready to be taken outside, no odors will be evident. When it’s time to clean out the trash cans themselves, leave 1 cup of baking soda in the bottom of the can after they have been washed and dried.

How do you throw out garbage can NYC?

You can throw out metal or rigid plastic trash or recycling cans or bins with your recycling items. Place a label on it that says “Sanitation, please take this can away” so that the Department of Sanitation knows to take it.

Which plastics Cannot be recycled?

Sorry, we can’t recycle any other types of plastic, including polystyrene, plastic bags and film. These are typically made from different types of plastics to plastic bottles, pots, tubs and trays.

What is not recyclable?

You should not recycle packaging that contains dangerous products — or in other words, products that are ignitable, corrosive, or toxic. Examples include oil paint, motor oil, fuel, poisons, or medical waste. If these items are empty, and all you have left is the packaging, then throw the packaging in the trash.

How can I hide my wheelie bin cheaply?

One idea to hide wheelie bins is to use slatted style fence panels. Using slatted style fencing can be a cost effective method to hide unsightly items inside the garden as they are relatively easy to install, much cheaper than concrete based structures and have a contemporary design.

Should you keep garbage cans in garage?

Most people tend to keep their garbage cans inside their garage in order to deter critters and animals from getting into it, which can cause quite a mess. While the garage can indeed be a safe place for you to keep your garbage cans, once summer hits and the temperatures begin to rise it’s going to start to smell.

How do you hide a wheelie bin?

The simplest solution for hiding your wheelie in is to use a material that already has built-in slats. This could be a store-bought shutter shed or an old shutter door from the junkyard. If your fence has adjustable louvres, you can leave them open when you wash your bins.

What is the best thing to absorb odors?

Baking soda is very effective at absorbing odors from the air as well as from surfaces. Put baking soda in your trash can to eliminate orders, and sprinkle it on any surface an odor emits. Leave it on for an hour, then sweep it off. Baking soda can be used in your washing machine to get rid of odors in your clothing.

How do you get a dead animal smell out of a garbage can?

sprinkle baking soda in there it soaks the smell right up. sprinkle it in there leave it overnight then rinse it out in the morning.

How do you get the rotten meat smell out of a garbage can?

Sprinkling a little bit of this kitty litter in the bottom of your garbage can should do the trick. You can place some cat litter at the bottom of the garbage can and then just let it sit outside for a day or so. Over time, you should notice that the rotten meat smell has been completely neutralized.

How heavy can your garbage bin be?

While garbage collectors aren’t going to measure and weigh your cans, they can fairly accurately tell if a can is too heavy. Your area may have different standards, but the Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County has a simple 50/50 rule to remember: Don’t go over 50 pounds or 50 gallons.

How many black garbage bags can I put out?

Your black cart can hold three to four standard-sized garbage bags (66 cm x 91 cm). If your black cart is full, you can put out extra garbage bags with your cart. Starting October 1, 2020, you will need to buy tags to put on extra garbage bags for pickup.

How many garbage bags can I put out NYC?

There is no limit to the number of bags you can put out for collection. You can‘t remove items, materials, or bags that other residents have placed out for pickup. Only authorized employees or agents of the Department of Sanitation may collect them.

How to get rid of your large, unwanted bulk items. Sell Your Unwanted Bulk Items at a Garage Sale. Throw Away Your Bulk Waste. Rent a Dumpster. Donate Your Unwanted Household Items. Recycle Your Bulk Household Items. Bring in a Junk Removal Company.

Can you recycle a plastic trash can?

Recycling. IT CAN BE RECYCLED! Place this item loose in your recycling bin. If the item is large, it is considered bulky and should be brought to the “silver bullets” or transfer station in your town.

How do you hide a trash can?

If you don’t have suitable fencing or want a shed, camouflage your trash cans with a combination of a piece of lattice or fencing arranged at a right angle to your house. Place some potted plants, climbing plants such as wisteria, or shrubs such as wax myrtle on the street-facing side for even greater curb appeal.

How do you fix a smelly garbage can?

It’s simple: add 1/4 cup of baking soda to the can in the morning. By the evening when the trash is ready to be taken outside, no odors will be evident. When it’s time to clean out the trash cans themselves, leave 1 cup of baking soda in the bottom of the can after they have been washed and dried.

Will Waste Management take mattresses?

Get rid of large, bulky items in your home easily and conveniently with Bulk Waste Pickup from Waste Management. For anything oversize that you don’t have a use for anymore, Waste Management will help you find the best way to dispose of it, from refrigerators to mattresses and everything in between.

Do landfills take mattresses?

Never dump mattresses and box springs where they don’t belong. It’s illegal, it can harm the environment, and it’s expensive for public agencies to pick them up. Instead, drop them off at a landfill, or dispose of them through a mattress recycling program.

Can I put shredded paper in my recycle bin?

While shredded paper can technically be recycled, it’s not commonly accepted in curbside recycling bins. When it is accepted, it’s typically required to be put in a separate container, often a paper or plastic bag. This is to make things easier during the separation process that’s done at the recycling facility.

Can wood go in the garbage?

Wood such as clean timber, dimensional lumber, stumps and limbs are readily recyclable. Wood that has been treated (with creosote, for example), painted, stained or contaminated is not appropriate for recycling and should be properly disposed of.

Can old books go in recycling bin?

Hardcover books cannot be put in your recycling bin unless you remove the binding and just recycle the pages.

Where should I keep my trash can?

Trash service can be costly and unsavory people around your neighborhood may dump their trash in your can to save a dime. To avoid this, keep your trash can in your garage where others can ‘t access it. This is especially useful for large families that need the extra garbage space.

How can I hide my wheelie bin cheaply?

One idea to hide wheelie bins is to use slatted style fence panels. Using slatted style fencing can be a cost effective method to hide unsightly items inside the garden as they are relatively easy to install, much cheaper than concrete based structures and have a contemporary design.

Where can I put my trash can?

Place your trash can on the opposite side of your driveway from the mailbox, within 2 feet of the curb, with the can facing forward (the can # should be facing your house). We will not be responsible for your mailbox if you place your container beside it! Place your recycle container on the same side as your mailbox.

What is the best thing to absorb odors?

Yet a few inexpensive household essentials you probably have on hand already—vinegar, salt, coffee, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide—will neutralize most noxious odors around your home and in your vehicles.

How do you get the rotten meat smell out of a garbage can?

Sprinkling a little bit of this kitty litter in the bottom of your garbage can should do the trick. You can place some cat litter at the bottom of the garbage can and then just let it sit outside for a day or so. Over time, you should notice that the rotten meat smell has been completely neutralized.

How do you clean mold out of a garbage can?

Make sure all the trash has been removed and no pieces of trash have fallen to the can. Use non -toxic cleaning supplies to remove mold. They include vinegar, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide. You scrub the bin surface with either of the non -toxic chemicals and wait for it to dry.

How to throw away a trash can

Some people don’t like the idea of putting pictures of themselves or people they know in the bin. As one reader wrote to me to say, ‘Sending them off to moulder in a landfill doesn’t seem right.’

But that’s exactly what I do when I dispose of old photos. I simply rip them up and put them in the bin. Not in the recycling bin, though, because the chemicals used in the printing process mean that old photos have to go in the regular trash that goes to landfill or incineration.

Some people are surprised to hear I do this because they have read somewhere that we are energetically connected to images of ourselves, so photos must be ritually burned or at least disposed of more respectfully. From my experience of hand sensing photos, I certainly agree that there is an energy connection between a person and their image. But it does not do any harm to a person to throw their photo away. When you think about it, millions of photos of people in newspapers end up in recycling waste every day and there are no dire consequences of this. If there were, all celebrities would be in big, big trouble.

Alternative methods of disposal

For people who are still not convinced, or find themselves unable to rip up images of themselves or people they know, a kinder method is to immerse the photos in a basin of water until the images float off and dissolve, which usually takes 3-5 days. But then you are faced with the problem of what to do with the toxic water you are left with. To dispose of it responsibly you certainly can’t pour it down the toilet or the sink, or empty it in your back garden. Photo paper contains a cocktail of chemicals, including silver and mercury. If you choose this method you would need to contact your local hazardous waste disposal centre first and ask them what to do.

I have to say, though, that I do draw the line when it comes to putting photos of people through the shredder. I can happily do this with photos of places or things, but seeing those mechanical metal teeth tearing through the faces of people I know feels unnecessarily aggressive. There are gentler ways to do it.

Digital photos

For those who’ve grown up in the digital age, deleting a photo is only a click of a button away. But the sheer quantity of photos most people now have has brought with it a whole new set of problems. Taking a photo is easy and cheap, but the time it takes to store it in a way that allows you to find it again, and the energy it takes to decide which to keep and which to delete, can take up untold hours of a person’s life.

Always bear in mind if you decide to take on a task that every use of your time you say yes to means saying no to something else. So if you are spending so much time organizing memories from the past, what are you saying no to in the present?

Need help?

Paper and digital clutter is one of the most challenging types there is. If you need help with this, I warmly invite you to join me in one of the highly effective 30-day Clear Your Paper & Digital Clutter online courses I’ll be teaching this year:

Jul 1-30, 2021
Oct 1-30, 2021

Like to read more articles like this?
Subscribe to my newsletters to receive news, articles and information about upcoming online courses by email. And I promise you – no junk mail ever.

In many countries other than Japan, the EU countries and some other exceptions, throwing away trash is pretty simple. Garbage is garbage, and that’s the end of unwanted items. Just put them in any container and bid goodbye to your waste. Although some efforts have been made in other countries to separate rubbish to a certain extent, such as cardboard or food waste, and recyclable items like bottles, throwing away garbage is still relatively simple and doesn’t take up too much of your time and effort.

Most foreigners who come to Japan for the first time are often surprised (and sometimes perplexed) by the very systematic and precise separation and disposal of garbage in the Japanese recycling system. It goes into unexpected detail and sometimes you need to disassemble a piece like for instance – cutting a carton of milk and separating the plastic spout from the paper container. Moreover, each city/ward/area has its own rules, so you have to be careful. Finally, the biggest barrier is the language one as very often they garbage disposal guides are either in Japanese only, or the English version is very limited.

However, in general, the rules are pretty similar as it is still the same country. This article is a guide on how to separate garbage in Japan and those general rules that come with it, the categories of trash, and what kinds of garbage fit into those categories.

How to throw away a trash can

How to throw away a trash can

In Japan, garbage is basically categorized into four different types. Each type has its own collection date. Do your best to organize your trash and put it in the correct category by keeping several trash cans in your apartment, if possible. Then, you need to put out garbage out on the right day. Pay special attention to the collection days so that you don’t end up missing it and have to keep your trash in your house for another week! If it’s burnable garbage and it’s summer, you are truly going to regret it!

*Unless your apartment is in a building that has a garbage area with separate garbage cans for all categories, so you can throw your trash there any time.

1. Combustible

Combustible trash or burnable trash, which is usually collected twice a week, includes leftover food, plants, paper (wastepaper, kitchen rolls, diapers, receipts – basically anything that cannot be recycled), dirty plastic bags and wrappers (food wrappers, gift wrappers, candy wrappers, grocery bags), rubber and leather (bags, shoes, slippers, boots), tubes and other plastic containers (toothpaste containers, cooking oil containers, soy sauce containers, ketchup containers, margarine containers, yogurt containers – basically any plastic container that cannot be cleaned).
Clothes in good condition can be recycled, but if they are dirty and damaged, or if it’s underwear, they belong in the burnable trash pile.

Usually every area requires special burnable trash bags for this garbage that can be bought from local convenience stores. (unless indicated otherwise)

2. Incombustible

Collected once or twice a month (depends on the area), non-burnable trash includes long plastics (plastic cords, hoses, rope), ceramic wares (teacups, plates, flower pots), metals, glass (flower vases, eyeglasses, broken glass), and small appliances (flat irons, radio cassettes, rice cookers), among other things.

Some areas might require special bags.

Some areas might have separate days for Plastic garbage which includes clean plastic containers and plastic bags. PET bottles excluded (see below).

3. Oversized Garbage

This includes home furniture such as cupboards, bookshelves, sofas, beds, tables, and others, over 50-centimeter long stuffed toys, bicycles, below 60cc motorcycles, electric fans, vacuum cleaners, carpets, and bedding. There is special tax to be paid for these items, and it is in the form of buying a sticker for oversized garbage. Only the garbage with stickers on will be collected, otherwise it will be left on the street.

4. Bottles and Cans

This trash is generally collected twice a month. Bottles include empty glass containers (caps must be removed), tin cans, and aluminum cans. These must be put in separate garbage bags, or you can deposit them in the provided boxes as they are. “Pet” bottles, which are plastic drinks bottles (with the number 1 inside a triangle symbol) must also be in a separate garbage bag with their caps and labels removed, washed, cleaned, and compressed (you can do this by stepping on them).

5. Old clothes and Used paper

Once you are done reading newspapers and magazines, don’t just throw them in the trash. There are wiser ways to recycle such items without hurting the environment. Books, newspapers, magazines, and clean cardboard are usually collected once or twice a month. When recycling old books and newspapers, don’t forget to tie them with a rope. Old clothes can also be recycled. Just place them inside a see-through plastic bag so waste collectors can easily see the contents and place them outside on the same day that paper, cardboard, books, magazines, and the like are collected. Keep in mind that some areas don’t collect these items on rainy days.

Is your medicine cabinet full of expired drugs or medications you no longer use? Your medicine is for you. What’s safe for you might be harmful for someone else. The best way to dispose of your expired, unwanted, or unused medicines is through a drug take back program — or you can do it at home.

Drug Take Back Programs

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) sponsors National Prescription Drug Take Back Day in communities nationwide. Many communities also have their own drug take back programs. Check with your local law enforcement officials to find a location near you or with the DEA to find a DEA-authorized collector in your community.

You can also check with your pharmacist. Some pharmacies offer on-site medicine drop-off boxes, mail-back programs, and other ways to help you safely dispose your unused medicines.

How to Dispose of Medicines at Home

When a take back option is not easily available, there are two ways to dispose of medicines at home, depending on the drug.

Flushing medicines: Because some medicines could be especially harmful to others, they have specific directions to immediately flush them down the sink or toilet when they are no longer needed, and a take-back option is not readily available.

How will you know? Check the label or the patient information leaflet with your medicine. Or consult the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s list of medicines recommended for disposal by flushing when a take back option is not readily available. Remember, don’t flush your medicine unless it is on the flush list.

Disposing medicines in household trash: If a take back program is not available, almost all medicines, except those on the FDA flush list (see below), can be thrown into your household trash. These include prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs in pills, liquids, drops, patches, and creams.

Follow these steps:

  1. Remove the drugs from their original containers and mix them with something undesirable, such as used coffee grounds, dirt, or cat litter. This makes the medicine less appealing to children and pets and unrecognizable to someone who might intentionally go through the trash looking for drugs.
  2. Put the mixture in something you can close (a re-sealable zipper storage bag, empty can, or other container) to prevent the drug from leaking or spilling out.
  3. Throw the container in the garbage.
  4. Scratch out all your personal information on the empty medicine packaging to protect your identity and privacy. Throw the packaging away.

If you have a question about your medicine, ask your health care provider or pharmacist.

Disposing Fentanyl Patches

The fentanyl patch is an example of a product that contains a powerful opioid medicine that can be dangerous to people it’s not prescribed for. This adhesive patch delivers a strong pain medicine through the skin.

Even after a patch is used, a lot of the medicine remains. That’s why the drug comes with instructions to flush used or leftover patches.

Disposing Inhaler Products

One environmental concern involves inhalers used by people who have asthma or other breathing problems, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Read handling instructions on the labeling of inhalers and aerosol products.

These products could be dangerous if punctured or thrown into a fire or incinerator. To properly dispose of these products and follow local regulations and laws, contact your trash and recycling facility.

Flushing Drugs and the Water Supply

Some people wonder if it’s okay to flush certain medicines when a take back option is not easily available. There are concerns about the small levels of drugs that may be found in surface water, such as rivers and lakes, and in drinking water supplies.

“The main way drug residues enter water systems is by people taking medicines and then naturally passing them through their bodies,” says Raanan Bloom, Ph.D., an environmental assessment expert at the FDA. “Many drugs are not completely absorbed or metabolized by the body and can enter the environment after passing through wastewater treatment plants.”

The FDA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency take the concerns of flushing certain medicines in the environment seriously. Still, there has been no sign of environmental effects caused by flushing recommended drugs. In fact, the FDA published a paper to assess this concern, finding negligible risk of environmental effects caused by flushing recommended drugs.

For more information on what to do when you no longer need your medicines, visit this FDA page.