Proper Disposal Methods For Unwanted Medications

Proper disposal of unwanted medications can help protect residents, visitors, natural resources, and our drinking water. Most waste water treatment facilities are unable to filter out many of the medications we use. The sameMedication bottles with tips to dispose applies to our water treatment facilities, thus, there are trace amounts of medications in our potable water. Using bottled water is no less of a likelihood medications are absent.

The problem in Charlotte County is compounded as most properties are on some form of septic tank system which does not filter medications. Therefore, all medications excreted from the body will enter our water system and eventually the water we drink.

As yet, it is unknown what, if any impact these trace amounts have on humans, our pets and other living organisms. To learn more about this impact, the United States Environmental Protection Agency is studying the matter.

Seven Steps to Safety
1. Keep the medicines in the original container. This will help identify the contents if they are accidentally ingested.
2. Mark / Cross out your name and prescription number for safety.
3. For pills: add some water or soda to start dissolving them.
    For liquid: add something inedible like cat litter, dirt, or cayenne pepper.
4. Close the lid and secure with duct or packing tape.
5. Place the bottle(s) inside an opaque (non see-through) container, like a coffee can or plastic laundry bottle.
6. Tape that container closed.
7. Hide the container in the trash. Do not put in the recycle bin.

For further information, please contact us (Charlotte County Health Department Environmental Health program). 

Disposing of Unwanted Medications English (.pdf / 158kb)Do not throw unused or expired medications in the toilet

Disposing of Unwanted Medications Spanish (.pdf / 160kb)

To dispose of pills: 1) Remove label 2) Fill pill bottle with water 3) Tape the cap on the bottle and hide in the trash.

Punta Gorda Fire Department logo

Charlotte County Sheriff's Office logo

Operation Medicine Cabinet

The Punta Gorda Fire Department, Charlotte County Sheriff, and Drug Free Charlotte County, offer “Operation Medicine Cabinet”, a program to remove and properly dispose of unused/unneeded prescription medications. Residents will be able to deposit unused and expired medications into the Vault (drop box) for proper disposal, no questions asked. All participants will remain anonymous.

The goal of “Operation Medicine Cabinet” is to get rid of dangerous and potentially deadly prescription drugs before they fall into the wrong hands. An additional benefit of the program is this will help to prevent drugs/medications from being disposed of improperly, which will result in reducing the impact on the environment.

Three Drop Box Locations:

The Punta Gorda Fire Department and the drop box is located at 1410 Tamiami Trail.

Charlotte County Sheriff District-1 Office drop box is at 6868 San Casa Road, Englewood.

Charlotte County Sheriff District-4 Office drop box is in Promenades Mall, Port Charlotte.

For information after business hours please call 941-624-7200.

Department of Health Mission: To protect, promote & improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county, & community efforts.

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