California Drug Take-Back Program
The application period is no longer open.
This program was funded by California Department of Health Care Services' MAT Expansion Project and developed and administered in partnership with the California Product Stewardship Council. The program's goal is to increase the disposal of unwanted medicines across the state of California. Safe medicine disposal bins (bins) were be placed throughout the state for the express purpose of disposing unwanted medicines.
If you represent a pharmacy, hospital, or police department and are interested in hosting a bin, please note that the application period is now closed.
Nearly 250 bins were placed as part of this program, putting into place a large network of bins across the state of California and providing all citizens with greater access to free safe medicine disposal.
Med Bin Drop-Off Locations
To find a collection bin near you, use the map below. To search by address, click on the "view larger map" tool (in the top right corner of the map below, just to the right of the "share" icon), wait for the larger map to load, then click on the search tool (magnifying glass near the upper left corner), type in your address, and then press enter. Zoom in or out to see locations near you. Click on the pill icons for med bin address, telephone, and additional details (if available).
Disclaimer: Note that the pill icons on the map below represent drug take-back locations, some of which accept controlled & non-controlled drugs, while others accept only non-controlled drugs. Again, click on a pill icon below for more information. The color of the pill simply reflects the type of program that resulted in the placement of the med bin. If a location no longer accepts unwanted meds, please let us know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
How does it work?
Follow these 3 easy steps:
At home, remove pills and other solid medications from their containers and consolidate in a clear plastic zipper bag. Keep liquid and cream medication tightly sealed in their original containers. (NOTE – keep medications in their child-proof container until just prior to drop off).
Remove, mark out, or otherwise obscure personal information from solid and liquid/cream medication containers to protect your personal information. Recycle containers for solid medications in your household recycling.
Bring zipper bag and any liquids/creams to a bin location and place in the bin – It’s that easy!
Note: Medications should remain in the original child-proof container until just prior to drop-off.
What can I put in the med bin?
Prescription medications – only certain locations accept Schedule II to V Controlled Substance medications. Please check the bin locations map for information about what types of medications each site can accept
Medicated ointments and lotions (leave tightly sealed in original containers)
See list of accepted substances below
Note: Schedule II to V Controlled Substance medications are prescribed medications that are strictly regulated because they have a high potential for abuse and/or can cause harm when ingested by the wrong person. To check if your medication is a controlled substance, please click here.
What can't I put in the med bin?
Illegal (Schedule I) Controlled Substances (e.g. marijuana, heroin, LSD, etc.)
Medical Sharps and Needles (hypodermic needles, syringes, auto injectors, infusion sets, connection needles/sets, and lancets)
Auto-injectors (e.g. EpiPen®)
Chemotherapy or cytotoxic medications
Compressed cylinders or aerosols (e.g. asthma inhalers)
Vitamins and dietary supplements
Business medical waste (e.g. company representative’s product samples, waste from hospitals, clinics, and doctor’s, dentist’s, and veterinarian’s practices)
Small amounts of liquid prescription and OTC medications (less than 6 oz.)
For pharmacies, hospitals, and law enforcement departments:
How do I apply for the Drug Take-Back Program med bin?
Please note that the application period is now closed.
Frequently Asked Questions
A: Aside from the FAQs listed below, please click here.
A: If you're awarded a free med bin through the program, you'll receive a free med bin (use of this med bin is required by the program), free professional installation (the program requires installation by our staff), free servicing of the med bin (through August 2020), and free technical support for the duration of the program (August of 2020).
Q: I'm a new med bin host. What if I have questions about how to use the web portal?
A: Send an email to web portal technical support: email@example.com
Q: I represent a law enforcement office. Do the pharmacy regulations apply to me?
A: The pharmacy regulations do not apply to law enforcement offices.
Q: I represent a pharmacy. Does the bin need to be placed in the pharmacy?
A: Yes, the bin must be placed in the pharmacy, accessible to the general public, and within view of the pharmacist.
Q: What is California MAT Expansion Project and how does it relate to this project?
A: In an effort to address the opioid epidemic throughout the state, the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) is implementing the California Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) Expansion Project. The California MAT Expansion Project aims to increase access to MAT, reduce unmet treatment need, and reduce opioid overdose related deaths through the provision of prevention, treatment, and recovery activities. The California MAT Expansion Project focuses on populations with limited MAT access, including rural areas and American Indian & Alaska Native tribal communities. The California MAT Expansion Project is funded by federal grants from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The MAT Expansion Project provided funding for the California Drug Take-Back Program.
Q: Are law enforcement offices allowed to transport the contents of the bins for proper destruction?
A: No. This program requires bin hosts to ship via our contracted third party reverse distributor.
Q: What is the cost for servicing is we were to pay on our own?
A: We've been quoted a per service fee of $165. Your costs may vary. Most locations get their bin serviced once every month or so, depending on a number of factors (pent up demand, population density, etc.).
Q: What are the dimensions of the bin?
A: See the Frequently Asked Questions reference document on this page for bin design details, including dimensions.
Q: What counties are exempt from this program?
A: The counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz are not allowed med bins as they have existing med bin programs. We encourage potential bin hosts from all other counties to apply.
Q: How do collectors unpack and assemble liners?
A: See this video for detailed instructions.
Q: How do collectors pack and ship liners?
A: See this video for detailed instructions.
Q: Does the med bin host have to lock away full and packaged liners? If yes, how does that process work?
A: Yes. Each med bin host will receive a four liners: one single liner, along with a pack of three liners. Once a liner is inserted into the bin, the med bin becomes functional – don’t forget to unlock the hatch once the liner is installed. Once the liner is full and subsequently removed (when the med bin ceases to open properly, it is most likely full), simply seal and package the liner (see our videos on this site) and keep the full liner stored in a locked storage room until the common carrier arrives to remove the package. If you don’t have a locked room to store the package until it is picked up, leave the package in the locked bin and lock the hatch until an empty liner is installed in the med bin. NOTE: Be sure to sign up for automatic refilling of liners via the web portal so a new pack of liners will be sent to you automatically once you get down to your last replacement liner.
Q: What kind of substances can be placed into these med bins?
A: Any schedule II-V controlled and non-controlled substances can be placed in the bins. Pet medications are also allowed, as are prescription ointments, prescription patches, and over-the-counter medications. NO medical sharps and needles, no thermometers, and no inhalers are to be placed in the bins. Note that instructions are on the bins and that the instructions state what can and cannot be placed in the bin. Pharmacies will not be held responsible for any items that are placed in the bins.
Q: Where are the bins allowed to be installed?
A: Program guidelines allow bins to be installed in pharmacies, hospitals with pharmacies, and law enforcement offices. If installed in pharmacies, they must be within sight line of the pharmacist while they are standing at the pharmacy counter.
Q: When applying for the bin, do we also need to contract with a company to pick up the filled liners separately, or is it included in the initial application?
A: Servicing of the filled liners is covered through the program through at least August 2020, although program funds now allow for continued purchase of liners, which include shipping and destruction. The program's contracted reverse distributor is Covanta. We let them know where your bin is, and they take care of the rest (once you have been awarded a bin, you have provided to us all of the necessary paperwork, it has been installed, etc.).
Q: Is the collection of the liners done through mail-back? Does the reverse distributor visit our location to pick up the used liner?
A: Once you call for a pickup using the program's web portal, you must call UPS to schedule a pick-up; UPS picks up the package, typically, within one business day. If you're not on UPS' normal pick-up route, they may charge approximately $8 each time they visit.
Q: How do I update my DEA license so that I have collector status?
A: Follow this link to the U.S. Department of Justice website, and complete the online form "Registration for Disposal of Controlled Substances."
Q: Does the grant cover plastic baggies for disposal of drugs in the med bins?
A: No. Note that the bins accept both pill bottles or baggies; the bags may be provided by the med bin host or the individual using the med bin.
Q: How do I schedule a pickup for a filled liner? Are there pick-up or shipping fees associated with scheduling a pick-up?
A: Each liner comes attached with prepaid shipping labels, although we recently learned that UPS charges a pickup fee if your location is not located on a normal route. To schedule a pickup, just do the following: 1) call 800-742-5877 and select “schedule a pickup” 2) enter your facility address and you will get a total cost 3) enter your credit card info, or pay with check or a money order 4) schedule a date and time for the driver to come and pick up the liner.
Q: Is there a way to avoid having to pay a pick-up fee?
A: Yes, the liner would have to be picked up by the UPS driver part of their normal delivery route. Talk to your UPS driver and give them a heads up regarding the regular expected shipping pattern (and how to get added to their normal delivery route). To further clarify, this way they can be on the lookout for packages as part of their normal delivery route. Pickups as part of a normal delivery route are free.
Q: What should I do if my local town/city/county has local registration or reporting requirements?
A: Please reach out to your local Dept of Health or Dept of Human Services to inquire about local registration or reporting requirements. Most of California's 58 counties and 482 cities do not have registration or reporting requirements, although your local jurisdiction might have registration or reporting requirements.
Q: How do I set up my user ID and set up auto replenishment of liners on the web portal?
A: See this process documentation for detailed instructions.
Q: What do I do with extra liners at the end of the grant period (August 2020)?
A: Med bin hosts are to ship the liners out when full, even if the liners are shipped out past the end of the grant. Continue using the prepaid liners provided by the grant until the supply is depleted.
Q: Do I have to notify the Board of Pharmacy if I install a take-back receptacle? How do I submit a notice?
A: Yes, you must notify the Board of Pharmacy within 30 days of installing a take-back receptacle. Please follow this fill out and submit this short online form to have your location registered.
Q: How does the envelope portion of the program work?
A: We're distributing free, postage-paid, safe disposal envelopes as part of the CA Drug Take-Back Program for the elderly and homebound to use to return their unwanted medicines. A small number of counties (Lake County, Nevada County, Tehama County, Humboldt County, Imperial County, Merced County, Kern County, or Orange County) have been identified as a priority location to distribute the envelopes. If you're a Department of Health representative, law enforcement office representative, pharmacist, or elderly care facility representative, please reach out to us to inquire about how you can participate. Also, using the envelopes is easy:
Fill it. Just put unwanted medicines in a plastic baggie or leave in the pill bottle, remove identifying stickers from pill bottles, and put it in the envelope.
Seal it. Simply seal the envelope securely.
Mail it. Put the envelope in your mailbox or drop it off at a post office.
Q: Do I have to register with the DEA or the Board of Pharmacy to participate in the envelope program?
A: No DEA registration or notification to the Board of Pharmacy is required to distribute envelopes at your facility.
Q: Where are the envelopes sent once someone has put them in the mailbox? Is there a shipping cost?
A: No shipping cost. The envelopes are postage-paid and pre-addressed to a DEA approved collector for destruction.
Q: What is the physical size of the cardboard boxes and liners that go inside the med bins? What is liner’s capacity?
A: The cardboard box is 17 inches wide, 17 inches long, and 32 inches tall. It’s capacity is 38 gallons, although never fill a liner to capacity.
Q: Who do I reach out to if I lose my med bin's keys?
A: Email and be prepared to share your contact information, shipping details, med bin serial number, and method of payment for a $26 payment.
Q: Who do I contact with questions about use of the web portal or bin servicing after the California Drug Take-Back Program grant period (August 2020) has ended?
A: Please email American Security Cabinets’ support team with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Who do I contact with general questions about the California Drug Take-Back Program after the grant period (August 2020) has ended?
A: Please email Nate Pelczar at with any questions.
Want to learn more about the California Drug Take-Back Program? Check out our webinar recordings! Each webinar includes a program overview and includes a question and answer segment.
Webinar I: Program Overview - see recording here
This webinar provided potential collectors with a comprehensive overview of the program, how they fill out the application, and what they will be required to do as a collector. Time was allotted for questions and answers.
This webinar occurred on August 28th, 2019 at 10am.
Webinar II: Implementation - see recording here
This webinar focused on the implementation of the project and the requirements of the collectors. Time was allotted for questions and answers.
This webinar occurred on September 11th, 2019 at 10am.
Webinar III: Promotion and Media - see recording here
This webinar included an overview of the program, as well as information about promotion of the bins once installed at each bin host location. This webinar was open to the media. Time was allotted for questions and answers.
This webinar occurred on October 23rd, 2019 at 10am.
Webinar IV: Program Overview - See recording here
The fourth webinar included the same program overview that was provided in the first webinar, in addition to a section that detailed promotion and media. It provided the general public and current collectors with an opportunity to ask questions and raise any issues they have had while operating as a collection location.
This webinar occurred on November 6th, 2019 at 10am.
Webinar V: Program Overview, Promotion, and Media - See recording here
This webinar occurred on January 30th, 2019 at 10am.
Safe Disposal Envelopes
The second component of the California Drug Take-Back Program is the safe disposal medicine return envelope component. Program administrators designed a pilot program in which a small number of Californian counties received a number of envelopes with the purpose of distributing them to the elderly, homebound, and those with limited mobility so that they had the opportunity to safely dispose of their unwanted medicines from the comfort of their own home. The envelopes have since been distributed to the county distribution points (pharmacies, police departments, senior centers, etc.) and then distributed to the general public. Once the envelopes are distributed to citizens and filled with unwanted medicines (opioids and other prescription pills, patches, and ointments), they are then dropped in the mail (each envelope is postage-paid) and returned to the waste-to-energy facility for destruction. The data collected (how quickly the envelopes were returned, when they were returned, the weight of the envelopes once returned; envelopes are anonymous and no personal information is gathered) will be passed along to the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) for analysis. The California DHCS will use the data as a factor in determining if a larger, statewide program will be funded and implemented.
Education and Information Sharing
One of the goals of the Drug Take-Back Program was to educate the general public regarding the importance of disposing of unwanted medicines in the most ecologically sound manner, the importance of using safe disposal med bins, and letting the general public know where they can find one of the newly installed bins. To that end, the program funded the design, printing, and distribution of unique newspaper inserts across California. See the map below for the regions that received newspaper inserts and click on the link in the key to the right of the map for the appropriate region.