medicine recycling


I fill one prescription a month and I recycle the bottles, but I’m wondering if they can be reused. Do you know?



I remember back in the day we would go to the drug store – Toler in Avon – to refill my mom’s prescription. It was fun because we knew we’d have 20 or so minutes to explore the store and we’d probably get to leave with a treat.

Back then, refill actually meant that they would re-fill the same bottle. But now, with call-in or auto refills, times have changed. You would actually have to walk into the pharmacy with your empty pill bottle, talk to the pharmacist, and wait to have your prescription refilled – an inconvenience that most people aren’t willing to deal with now.

The other concern is with contamination. Does your bottle introduce germs into the pharmacy or has your bottle been contaminated in some way that affects the medicine? It’s a risk management issue that most pharmacies probably aren’t willing to take on.

I recently talked with a pharmacist consultant who says there is no law in Indiana saying that a bottle can’t be reused, which leads me to believe that it’s more of a pharmacy policy or personal preference of the pharmacist. I am interested in doing a little experiment. If you’re willing to take your bottle in the next time you need a refill, it certainly doesn't hurt to ask your pharmacist to reuse your bottle. The worst that could happen is that the say no. I actually did this at my neighborhood big-box pharmacy a few years ago. Over the course of a couple months, one pharmacist honored my request and another said no – one bottle saved! 

Another idea for reducing the number of plastic bottles you need to recycle is to ask your doctor to write your prescription quarterly instead of monthly. Then you’ll only have four bottles a year instead of 12.

Piece out,


Renee Sweany is NUVO's green living advice blogger.

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