Unwanted Medicines Collection

Public Service Director

Chad Weth
(865) 215-2060

3131 Morris Ave.
Knoxville, TN 37909

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Unwanted meds For Information on the next Medication Collection Event please visit this link: http"//www.metrodrug.org/medcollection

The Knoxville Police Department, City and County Solid Waste Offices, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, UT Academy of Student Pharmacists, Knoxville Utilities Board, Metropolitan Drug Commission, Hallsdale Powell Utility District, and the Knox County Health Department sponsor Unwanted Medicines Collection events during the year.

The events offer residents an opportunity to turn in unwanted and/or outdated and expired prescription medicines and over the counter medications for proper disposal by KPD. And, all empty containers and packaging are also properly recycled.

Events take place around the City three to four times a year. Usually scheduled in March and April and at the America Recycles Day event in the fall. Locations to be announced.

The goal of the collection is to prevent these pharmaceutical and over the counter products from getting into the waterways - or into the hands of children - and to make sure they are disposed of in a safe, environmentally-friendly manner.

Other than the events, old or unused prescriptions and over the counter drugs may be brought to the Knoxville Police Department's Safety Building, located at 800 Howard Baker Jr. Avenue, for disposal at anytime, twenty fours a day seven days a week. The KPD maintains a secure collection container there on a permanent basis just inside the lobby.

The collection events are part of a nationwide effort to reduce the amount of drugs that are entering water systems from either being flushed or poured down drains.

For more information about a medication collection and safe drug disposal event, contact either the City's Solid Waste Division at 215-2872 or KPD at 215-7031.


Unwanted Pharmaceuticals are both an environmental and a health and safety problem.

Drugs enter the environment in several ways:

  • Unwanted drugs are disposed in the toiler or sink
  • Passed from the body to the sewage system
  • Sewage treatment plants cannot remove all types of medications


  • Dispose of unused or unwanted medications at take-back sites
  • Do NOT dispose of any medication down the toilet
  • Purchase drugs in small amounts, limiting expired medications
  • Ask for medications with low environmental impact
  • Encourage your health provider to take back unused and expired drugs
  • Commit to health and wellness strategies to reduce your reliance on medications
  • Choose meat and poultry raised without hormones and antibiotics

    In Knoxville:

  • Old or unused medicines should be brought to a collection event or, after the event to the Knoxville Police Department Safety Building at 800 Howard Baker Jr. Ave.
  • Many pharmacies also have permanent receptacles for unwanted medications on-site. You can drop off your unwanted medications at the locations listed below. Please call ahead to ensure the location is still actively collecting meds. 

  • Walgreens 
    5006 North Broadway  

    Mac's Pharmacy
    2419 Washington Pike

    2400 North Broadway

    Belew Drugs
    2021 North Broadway Street

    University of Tennessee
    1101 Cumberland Avenue

    4001 Chapman Highway

    University Pharmacy
    1924 Alcoa Highway, Suite NP 100

    6005 Kingston Pike

    121 North Northshore Drive

    9175 Kingston Pike

    9200 Middlebrook Pike

    Belew Drugs
    8622 Asheville Highway

  • To see the full map of permanent drop-off locations, visit the TDEC website at RXTakeBack.


  • Do not prescribe more medication than can be used
  • Prescribe starter packs and refill packs
  • Review and regularly reassess the patient’s total consumption of medication
  • Learn which drugs have the highest eco-toxicity
  • Educate patients, consumers and colleagues about the importance of proper disposal of pharmaceutical waste


    Pharmaceutical and Personal Care Products (PPCPs) include prescription and over the counter drugs, fragrances, cosmetics, sun screen agents, nutritional supplements and herbs.

    The U.S. EPA considers the presence of PPCPs in the environment one of the most significant emerging threats of the 21st century


    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency the potential environmental impacts of pharmaceuticals
    http:// www.epa.gov/ppcp

    U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) research on the presence of pharmaceuticals in the environment


    Current research provides evidence on a range of impacts to living organisms. Estrogens cause male fish to become female. Antidepressants cause lobsters to become more aggressive. Prozac induces reproduction in shellfish. These are just a few examples of PPCPs impact on the environment.


    The evidence for the direct consequences of PPCPs on humans is only beginning to be investigated. A landmark study in 2006 found that a mix of 13 common medications found in some drinking waters across the U.S. inhibits cell growth in human embryonic cells. This is one of the few studies that looks at how mixtures of prevalent medications can affect biological activity even at low concentrations.


    We rely heavily on pharmaceuticals in our current medical systems. Drug consumption in the U.S. has grown 109% from 2000-2004. 4 out of 5 patients leave their doctor’s office with at least one prescription. Doctors often discontinue medications, causing others to go unused. Consumers also purchase certain drugs in large quantities that eventually expire. A recent take-back program in San Francisco found the average household had 2.7 pounds of unwanted or expired drugs.


    Currently, pharmacists, law enforcement agencies and municipal waste organizations are taking the most responsibility for properly disposing of unused drugs. To achieve zero waste, “cradle to cradle” product stewardship is necessary. This means everyone including the manufacturers, distributors, retail pharmacies, physicians, veterinarians and consumers all participate in unused product recycling and disposal.