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Safe Medicine Disposal Ordinance

General information

The Safe Medicine Disposal Ordinance went into effect on May 28, 2015. Using an extended producer responsibility model, the Ordinance requires medicine producers who manufacture prescription or over-the-counter medicines offered for sale in San Mateo County to design, develop, and fund a medicine collection and disposal program for unwanted medicine from residents. The County provides oversight to ensure that the Program meets the needs of the community and adheres to the Ordinance.

The extended producer responsibility model is based on the concept that the manufacturer of a product takes responsibility for that product throughout its life, including disposal. Under the Program, medicine manufacturers fully fund a medicine collection program making it easier for the public to choose the safest way to dispose of their unwanted medicines. The goals of the Ordinance are to increase public safety and reduce water pollution.

What medicines are included in San Mateo County’s Safe Medicine Disposal Ordinance?

San Mateo’s Ordinance includes medicines that meet the definition of a “covered drug.” A “covered drug” means a drug sold in any form and used by County residents and their pets, including prescription, nonprescription, brand name and generic drugs.

Exceptions to this include:

  • Vitamins or supplements
  • Herbal-based remedies and homeopathic drugs, products, or remedies
  • Cosmetics, shampoos, sunscreens, toothpaste, lip balm, antiperspirants, or other personal care products that are regulated as both cosmetics and nonprescription drugs under the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act
  • Drugs for which producers already provide a take-back program under federal FDA rules
  • Medical devices or their component parts or accessories, not including a covered drug

Safe Medicine Disposal Program Annual Reports & Surveys

MED-Project Annual Reports

MED-Project Surveys 

Safe Medicine Disposal Stewardship Plans                                     

Conditionally Approved Plans

Approved Plans

 Guidance Documents

Ordinance Requirements for Retailers                                          

All pharmacies are encouraged to participate as a collection site for unwanted and unused medicines from residents. The Ordinance requires that any retail pharmacy who wishes to volunteer cannot be denied by the MED-Project Program. If you are interested in being a collection location, contact MED-Project at:

Dr. Victoria Travis, PharmD, MBA
National Program Director
(844) 6-PROJECT

Additional Information for Interested Retailers

Wholesaler Resources

Wholesalers are required to update and resubmit their list of producers annually by January 15. Wholesalers have no other obligations under the Ordinance.

Submit your list of producers by email to 

Safe Medicine Disposal Wholesaler Exemption Form

If you are a drug wholesaler, but do not currently sell or distribute any covered drugs in or into the County, complete this form.
Note: If you have filled out the form in the past two years, you do not need to submit another form.

Additional Resources