Medication Disposal

mediccation Medication Drop Box Program
Due to recently passed legislation, the District no longer sponsors medication drop boxes at its former pharmacy locations. Please bring unused, non-controlled medications to the drop box location at the Costa Mesa Sanitary District headquarters during office hours - Monday through Thursday 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and every other Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

 District Headquarters:

290 Paularino Avenue, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Only non-controlled medications (such as over-the-counter, prescription, antibiotics, and cold and flu medications) can be placed in this drop box. Medications should be kept in their original containers. Controlled substances are not accepted in the drop box. For a full list of controlled substances, visit the Drug Enforcement Administration's website HERE. Most prescriptions for controlled substances will have a large letter "C" on the prescription label.

Alternative Drop-off Sites:

  • ***Note: As an alternative to CMSD's medication drop box during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Walgreens Pharmacy of Costa Mesa is also accepting pharmaceutical waste in the dropbox located outside of their building. Walgreens Pharmacy: 1726 Superior St, Costa Mesa, CA 92627; 949-629-9714
  • If you wish to dispose of controlled substances, please see this list of Orange County medication dropboxes for disposal options: Orange County Medication Drop Boxes


How else can I dispose of my medications?

• All medications, including controlled substances, will be accepted at various Orange County drop sites during National Prescription Drug Take-Back Days in April and October of each year. For details and locations, check with your local police department, the Orange County Sheriff's Department, or contact the Drug Enforcement Administration at (800) 882-9539.
• Put unwanted or expired medications in a zip bag. Pour hot water into the bag. Add kitty litter, soil, or tissue paper to soak up the liquid. Place the entire bag into the mixed waste trash cart. For step-by-step instructions, click HERE.

Medications in the Environment

What happens when I flush unused medications down the toilet or put them in the drain? Unused medications that are flushed down the toilet or placed in drains pass through the sewer system and eventually enter our local waterways. Because medications have been detected in small amounts in surface water bodies, the major concerns have been increased bacterial resistance to antibiotics and interference with growth and reproduction in aquatic organisms such as fish and frogs.

The presence of medications in the environment is a complex issue and the level of risk to humans and the environment is still being determined.  With tens of thousands of medicinal products currently on the market, and with more being developed each year, it is not definitively known which products (or combinations of products) are a problem or what the long-term risks are.  However, in order to minimize the potential negative and irreversible impacts on the environment, it is important that we limit the disposal of waste medications to the sewer system.

The California Pharmacists Association (CPhA) has partnered with the No Drugs Down the Drain program and recognizes the need to divert waste medicines from the sewer.  To learn more about the CPhA, visit their website:

Please do not flush unused and expired medications down the toilet or put them in drains.