top of page

Unwanted Medication Collection

The City of Knoxville Police Department, Knox County and City of Knoxville Solid Waste Offices, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, UT Academy of Student Pharmacists, and the Knox County Health Department jointly sponsor a unique Household Only Medication Collection program in our community.

The goal of the collection is to prevent prescription and over-the-counter medications from getting into the waterways, into the hands of children and to make sure they are disposed of in a safe, environmentally-friendly manner. Medication collection events and programs are part of a nationwide effort to reduce the amount of pharmaceutical products being flushed or poured down drains.

For more information on local medication collection events and participating counties visit or contact either Zach Johnson at Knox County Solid Waste 215-5865 (ext 0) or Officer Craig McNew with the KPD at 215-7031.

Permanent Drop Box - City of Knoxville Police Station
  • KPD Safety Building – 800 Howard Baker Jr. Avenue


Residents may use this drop-off box, located just inside the Safety Building’s lobby, to dispose of expired or unwanted medications at anytime, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. The KPD maintains a secure collection container there on a permanent basis. Contact Officer Craig McNew with the KPD at 215-7031 for more details about the permanent drop box.

Events are regularly scheduled (usually one every few months). For event details visit

Households Only Household medications are accepted at several regularly scheduled medication collection events and at the permanent drop-off box at the City of Knoxville Police Station.

What we take:

  • Unwanted, outdated and expired prescriptions and over-the-counter medications

  • Veterinarian prescribed pet medications

  • Unused sharp medicines such as epinephrine allergy injections and insulin

  • Unused pricking devices for monitors will be taken as long as they are still in the packaging and have never been used

Used needles and other sharps should be disposed by placing the sharps/needles in a sealed plastic container (like an empty bleach bottle) and putting that in with your household waste.

More information
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Participants are encouraged to remove or mark through all personal information in order to safeguard privacy information. Permanent markers are provided at the event.

  • Needles, Sharps, Hazardous Medications Please advise the individual who collects your medicine from you (or make a note if using the drop box) if you think we need to take special precautions or if you have unused medicines that use sharps for delivery (needles, syringes, finger prick devices, etc). Some chemotherapy medicines may need special treatment. Used needles and other sharps should be disposed by placing the sharps/needles in a sealed plastic container (like an empty bleach bottle) and putting that in with your household waste.

  • What are PPCPs? Pharmaceutical and Personal Care Products (PPCPs) include prescription and over the counter drugs, fragrances, cosmetics, sun screen agents, nutritional supplements and herbs. The U.S. EPA considers the presence of PPCPs in the environment one of the most significant emerging threats of the 21st century. Unwanted Pharmaceuticals are both an environmental (water treatment, landfills, etc) and a health and safety problem (accidental overdose, illegal possession, theft)

  • How Do Drugs Affect Our Environment? Current research provides evidence on a range of impacts to living organisms. Estrogens cause male fish to become female. Antidepressants cause lobsters to become more aggressive. Prozac induces reproduction in shellfish. These are just a few examples of PPCPs impact on the environment.

  • How Do PPCPs Affect Human Health? The evidence for the direct consequences of PPCPs on humans is only beginning to be investigated. In a landmark 2006 study, some drinking waters across the U.S. were found to have a mix of 13 common medications that inhibit cell growth in human embryonic cells. This is one of the few studies that look at how mixtures of prevalent medications can affect biological activity even at low concentrations.

  • Why Are There Unused Drugs? We rely heavily on pharmaceuticals in our current medical systems. Drug consumption in the U.S. has grown 109% from 2000-2004. 4 out of 5 patients leave their doctor’s office with at least one prescription. Doctors often discontinue medications, causing others to go unused. Consumers also purchase certain drugs in large quantities that eventually expire. A recent take-back program in San Francisco found the average household had 2.7 pounds of unwanted or expired drugs.

  • Who Is Responsible For Disposing Unused Medicines? Currently, pharmacists, law enforcement agencies and municipal waste organizations are taking the most responsibility for properly disposing of unused drugs. To achieve zero waste, “cradle to cradle” product stewardship is necessary. This means everyone including the manufacturers, distributors, retail pharmacies, physicians, veterinarians and consumers all participate in unused product recycling and disposal.

  • PPCPs enter the environment in several ways: -Unwanted drugs are disposed in the toilet or sink -Passed from the body to the sewage system -Sewage treatment plants can not remove all types of medications

  • Consumers Can: -Dispose of unused or unwanted medications at take-back sites -Do NOT dispose of any medication down the toilet -Purchase drugs in small amounts, limiting expired medications -Ask for medications with low environmental impact -Encourage your health provider to take back unused and expired drugs -Commit to health and wellness strategies to reduce your reliance on medications -Choose meat and poultry raised without hormones and antibiotics

  • Healthcare Providers: -Do not prescribe more medication than can be used -Prescribe starter packs and refill packs -Review and regularly reassess the patient’s total consumption of medication -Learn which drugs have the highest eco-toxicity -Educate patients, consumers and colleagues about the importance of proper disposal of pharmaceutical waste

Recent Posts

See All

Tennessee News Has Moved

Tennessee Overdose Prevention is no longer updating the News section of our website. To see more Tennessee news curated by the Tennessee Overdose Prevention team, check out our other website, You Are

James Graczyk Obituary

James Graczyk Knoxville - James Graczyk, affectionately known as, "Bubba," age 41, departed his life, March 12, 2022 in Knoxville, Tennessee at the University of Tennessee Medical Center. James was bo

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page