Hazardous Waste

​News and updates

April 2021 update: revised drug take-back plans received

DEQ received revised plans from the following potential drug take-back program operators:

Pursuant to ORS 459A.209(8), DEQ is making these plans available to the public. DEQ has 90 days to review and approve or reject the revised plans.

Programs must be operational by July 1, 2021.

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; and
  • 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.

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.. 

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. 

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.

If you are a consumer looking for a place to drop off your unwanted household drugs now, there are existing collection sites in Oregon. You can search DEQ's Managing Unwanted Medications web page for a site near you. These sites are independently operated, so please check ahead to determine what types of drugs and other healthcare products they will accept.

Pharmacies, law enforcement agencies, and other potential authorized collectors, as defined in ORS 459A.200, have an opportunity to join a statewide program as authorized collectors and offer their communities a safe and secure way to dispose of unwanted drugs.

Authorized collectors will host collection receptacles for program operators. A program operator will service the receptacles for the authorized collectors, transport the pharmaceutical waste and ensure its proper disposal. The cost of collection and disposal will be covered by drug manufacturers.

​Manufacturers and program operators should familiarize themselves with the Drug Take-Back Law's requirements in ORS 459A.200 to 459A.266 and the Drug Take-Back rules in Chapter 340, Division 98. The Drug Take-Back rules were adopted by the Environmental Quality Commission on Sept.17, 2020. You can find more information about the rulemaking process on the Drug Take-Back Program 2020 Rulemaking page.

​​​​The Drug Take-Back Stakeholder Workgroup is an informal workgroup that meets to discuss issues, such as outreach, related to implementation of the Drug Take-Back Program.  These meetings are open to the public​.

Past Meetings

Sept. 30, 2020

Nov. 16, 2020



Questions? Please contact

Michael Lee
Program Coordinator

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