Hazardous Waste

Note: this webpage contains general information about the Drug Take-Back Program. For information on proposed rules for the Drug Take-Back Program or to comment on the proposed rules, please visit the Drug Take-Back Program 2020 Rulemaking page.

Program overview

The Drug Take-Back Law (ORS 459A.200 to 459A.266) makes Oregon one of a handful of states that will require drug manufacturers to fund and develop a statewide drug take-back program providing safe and secure disposal of drugs for Oregon residents and other covered entities.

Leftover or expired drugs can pose a number of serious environmental and health risks. Drugs left in a household can lead to accidental poisonings, addiction, or abuse. Drugs thrown in the garbage or flushed down the toilet or drain can release chemical compounds that end up in rivers or groundwater. A national study of 139 streams in 30 states found household chemicals, including steroids and other drugs, in 80% of water samples.

By July 1, 2021, Oregon residents will be able to return drugs at drop-off sites located at pharmacies, hospitals, clinics and law enforcement agencies that are participating as a program’s authorized collectors. Long-term care facilities and substance abuse disorder treatment programs may also participate as authorized collectors. Oregon residents will also be able to request prepaid, pre-addressed envelopes to return unwanted drugs by mail.

Collection services are intended for household disposal, not pharmaceutical waste from businesses. These services will be available free of charge to:

  • Oregon residents
  • A nonbusiness entity located in Oregon
  • Ultimate users, as defined by 21 U.S.C. 802(27), e.g., a person who has lawfully obtained, and who possesses, a controlled substance for their own use or for the use of a member of their household.

See ORS 459A.200(6) for more detail. Collected drugs will be destroyed at a hazardous waste disposal facility or a municipal solid waste incinerator that is permitted to accept pharmaceutical waste.

There are existing sites that collect unwanted drugs in Oregon. You can search here for a site near you. As these sites are independently operated, please check ahead to determine what drugs they will accept.

How will be the program be implemented?

Each drug take-back program will be developed and implemented by a program operator, which may be a drug manufacturer, a group of drug manufacturers, or an agent acting on behalf of a manufacturer or manufacturers. Program operators must be 501(c)(3) organizations.

To operate a program, a program operator must submit a program plan to DEQ by Nov. 1, 2020 for approval. The plan must describe how the proposed drug take-back program will provide statewide convenient service, including the network of drop-off sites that the program will offer throughout the state. Before submitting a plan to DEQ, a program operator must solicit and enter into agreements with all potential authorized collectors who are willing to operate a secure repository on the drug take-back program’s behalf.

DEQ will administer the overall Drug Take-Back Program. In addition to reviewing and approving program plans, DEQ will monitor statewide programs to ensure their compliance with the Drug Take-Back Law and their approved program plans. DEQ and the Oregon Board of Pharmacy will share responsibilities in inspecting drop-off sites.

Laws and rules

Manufacturers and program operators should familiarize themselves with the Drug Take-Back Law’s requirements in ORS 459A.200 to 459A.266. DEQ has also proposed rules for the Drug Take-Back Program.


View existing collection sites on DEQ's Managing Unwanted Medications web page