Proper Disposal of Post-Consumer Medication Returns

Pill being prepared for disposal
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By the Health Products Stewardship Association, Ontario Medications Return Program

Ontario Medications Return Program

The proper disposal of unwanted medications protects our communities by preventing misuse and accidental ingestion, and safeguards our environment from contaminated landfills and waterways.

Pharmacies are reminded of the below three steps to safely dispose of consumer returned unwanted medications:

  • Only consumer returned medications, such as prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications and natural health products are accepted through the Ontario Medications Return Program. Consumers may also return unused or expired medications for companion animals.
  • All pills should be removed from their original packaging and be loosely disposed of in a medications return container. Do not place medical sharps in the medications return container.
  • All liquids and creams should be kept in their original vials. Remove any personal information.
Visit FAQs for pharmacists to learn more about the program.


Please review the College’s Controlled Substances: Destruction of Userviceable Stock and Post-Consumer Returns fact sheet for information on destroying controlled substances.

Pharmacy staff are reminded of their obligations of responsible management of post-consumer controlled substances:

  • Pharmacy staff participating in Ontario Medications Return program should not denature drugs prior to putting them in the collection container.
  • Members of the public can combine all unwanted medications, including controlled substances, to return at a pharmacy registered in Health Products Stewardship Association’s Medication Returns Program.
  • Controlled substances returned to a pharmacy by the public should be placed into the collection container immediately by pharmacy staff.
  • Collection containers must be kept in a secure space in the dispensary.
  • Once full, the container should be sealed and removed from the pharmacy by the Health Products Stewardship Association contracted waste management service provider.
To learn more about the program, please visit

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