What do I do with…?

Sealed Pills and Syringe

Medical Residuals

What is medical waste? Medical waste is any discarded medicine, drugs, or pharmaceuticals as well as infectious materials aka bio-hazards.

Why is medical waste a problem? Infectious materials can transfer medical diseases to others if not handled and disposed of properly. Medical waste can also contaminate soils and waterways causing them to be toxic.

Examples: sharps (needles, syringes, etc), prescription drugs (antibiotics, pain meds, analgesics, antidepressants, hormones) or over-the counter drugs (acetaminophen, ibuprofen, etc), prescription drug containers (pill bottles), chemotherapy or narcotic drugs (Oxycontin, oxycodone, fentanyl, morphine, etc - any illegal drug such as heroin, cocaine, meth), compressed gas cylinders and equipment (breathing air tubes, etc)


  • Bulk-sized pill bottles are harder to finish before the expiration date; choose the right amount for your frequency of need

  • Live a healthy lifestyle so you don’t get sick or need to see a doctor as much, reducing the amount of pharmaceuticals you need on a daily basis

  • Try all natural, homeopathic remedies


  • Empty pill bottles can double as a secure and small storage container

  • These locations have a permanent prescription drug and medical liquid drop-offs: (just place in sealed plastic bags or closed bottles)


  • Most medical waste cannot be recycled easily by the public. Large facilities, such as St. Patrick’s Hospital have recycling programs in place to recycle in large quantities. They partner with Stericycle, which has a hazardous waste disposal facility in Butte.

  • Currently there is no facility in Missoula that recycles compressed gas cylinders and equipment.

  • Sharps, chemotherapy drugs, and narcotic drugs cannot be recycled. Check out this guide to Household Pharmaceutical Waste and Safe Needle Disposal.

  • Safely dispose of sharps at the disposal site on the North Side operated by the Open Aid Alliance located at the building that houses Burns St. Bistro (1500 Burns St).

    Proper disposal of medical hazardous waste is very important. Check out Montana’s procedures for storage, transportation, treatment, and disposal here.