Quick Recycling Tip: How to Recycle Plastic Medicine and Prescription Bottles

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This post is part of an attempt to do something like 100 recycling tips for damn near anything in something close to, anyway, 100 days. We’ll see how that goes. When the 100 Recycling Tips are all published here on Easy Ways to Go Green, we’ll do a master list so that every link exists on one single page for everyone to be able to link over to, or to use as a reference guide when questions on how to recycle different things in your life inevitably come up.

How to Recycle 100 Common Things: #30 Recycling Old Plastic Prescription Medicine Bottles

recycling plastic prescription bottlesWe’re back! It’s been a while since we did a helpful little post about recycling common items around the house or workplace, but we are definitely back. And today, we take a look around the web to find out the nitty-gritty about recycling plastic medicine and prescription bottles.

There is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed by here, either — consider it a non-judgmental post about prescription meds. We can argue to death about the benefits of holistic, non-traditional medicine, and still, the reality is that these prescription bottles will be out in the world, needing to be dealt with once we consider them trash. So here goes.

Do you let them litter the medicine cabinet? Do you take them back to the pharmacy where you initially had them filled, and then hand a sackful of empties over the counter to the pharmacist? Do you bring them in on your next doctor’s visit? Or can you just dispose of them in the regular recycling bin, where you put the rest of your plastic? And if you do that, then do you have to separate the lid from the rest of the bottle? Are both of them recyclable? Let’s find out.

So there it is. You’ve found affordable, safely administered prescription drugs — it’s taken forever, between hassles with your insurance company, working out what exactly was wrong with your health between you and your doctor, and finding a cheap online retailer to fill the order without breaking your bank account — and fast forward a few months, when you’ve run out. Maybe you had a cold that you couldn’t shake, and a quick round of antibiotics was all it took. Maybe you have a regular monthly prescription, and the bottles have been piling up. Let’s talk about recycling them.

Whatever you end up doing with the bottles, make sure you destroy your personal information on the packaging before you dispose of the bottle. Soak them in water and dish washing soap to remove the label. Peel it off with a sharp object like a steak knife. Black out the pertinent and personal information on the label with a Sharpie pen or other black marker.

Many curbside recycling programs, no matter how large the temptation you feel when you walk past it behind the house or apartment, do not want you to throw medicine bottles in. Because of this, it’s best to take an extra second, pick up the phone, and dial your city or neighborhood recycling center. Often times, there will be a place to drop them directly to the recycling center, rather than in the curbside bin. Option two. Check to see if there is a Whole Foods market in your neighborhood — there’s 300 or more of them all around the country, and while you may not shop there for one reason or another, you will be happy to know that they all accept #5 plastic prescription bottles, so take them to the market and drop them off at any of the Preserve drop off centers. Option three, check with a local veterinarian office or clinic — many savvy or eco-conscious vets accept empty plastic prescription bottles for re-use when administering drugs or supplements for house pets.

Of course, the re-use options are practically unlimited. Keep some loose change tidy in the car with one of them. Store your sewing needles in such a way that kids and cats can’t get at them. Use them for traveling and store thin jewelry like necklace chains and bracelets inside. Toothpicks, vitamin supplements, paper clips — the options are plenty.

Helpful Links on Recycling Old Plastic Prescription Medicine Bottles:

Search by “prescription bottles” or “medicine bottles” and “Your City Name or Zip Code” at Earth 911 and find the closest recycling center near you.
Suddenly Frugal site on recycling plastic prescription bottles.
Here’s a Yahoo QnA on plastic bottle recycling.
Recycling prescription bottles on the Mother Nature Network.
How to Dispose of Medications in an Environmentally Safe Way — this is an article about what’s IN the bottle, not the bottle itself.

[Photo Via: affinnova]

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