According to the Illinois EPA’s Medication Disposal FAQ Page:
“Pharmaceuticals are often [improperly] discarded by throwing them down a drain, toilet, or carelessly into the trash. . . . [They] can end up in our lakes, rivers, streams, and ground water sources. . . . having pharmaceuticals in the water supply can affect the local environment, including aquatic life . . . and can harm humans and wildlife, especially fish and amphibians.”
There are numerous drop-off sites that residents should use to dispose of any unwanted, residential medications and needles; SWANCC instructs residents to “Please keep medications in their original containers, as it is necessary to know what medications the contractor is dealing with.”
Mount Prospect Public Works accepts medications and sharps for disposal from SWANCC’s 23 member communities during normal business hours (Monday – Friday, 7:30AM – 5PM); click here to access the Village of Mount Prospect’s Solid Waste – Additional Recycling Programs page for more details and updates.
For more information about other SWANCC drop-off sites, as well as instructions and restrictions, visit SWANCC’s Pharmaceutical/Sharps Disposal page. For a more state-wide drop-off options in Illinois, visit the Illinois EPA’s medication disposal locations page.
Another option is mailing medical waste in special envelopes and containers. According to this article on the Earth 911 website, CVS sells special envelopes for $3.99 to send unwanted medications to a separate company for disposal; CVS itself does not accept medical waste. They also sell separate containers for disposal of sharps for $6.89 according to the Mt. Prospect CVS location, and it works much the same way as the envelopes.