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Residential Recycling & Prescription Bottles: What You Should Know

At one time or another, you’ve probably received a prescription bottle from the doctor.  After you’ve finished with the prescribed medication, what do you do with the empty prescription bottles?  As a Novak customer, you can place your empty prescription bottles in your residential recycling cart.  However, before you send them off to be recycled, there are some things you should know.

Medicine bottles are made of plastic, which will not biodegrade. Because prescription bottles won’t biodegrade, it’s important to find another use for them.  Finding practical uses for prescription bottles can be fun for crafty types.  However, for people who don’t want to hang on to them, know that they can be placed into your residential recycling cart.

Before you place your prescription bottles into your residential recycling bin, there are a few things that you need to ensure about the prescription bottle:Image of prescription pill bottle.

  • Before you recycle your prescription bottle, make sure that it's empty.
  • Deface or remove the label with your name on it before parting with it.
  • Completely remove paper instructions, cotton packing, and foil or paper tops.
  • Lids can be recycled too, but they must be screwed onto the bottle.

Because not every prescription bottle is the same, you’ll have to take special notice of any paper folded and attached to the bottom.  Some bottles also have a foil and paper tops as well as cotton packing.  These also need to be removed before being placed in your residential recycling cart.   

What are medicine bottles made of?
The orange bottles that hold prescription medication are typically made of polypropylene, also known as PP or by the resin code #5. Polypropylene is the plastic of choice for many food manufacturers and can also be used to make:

  • Fabric
  • Household products
  • Carpeting
  • Roof membranes.

Prescription bottles are usually tinted a different color (orange, red) because light can actually damage the medication.

Photo of over-the-counter medication bottle.After making sure that all foil, cotton and labels have been removed from your prescription drug bottle and the lid has been safely secured to the bottle, it’s ready to be placed in your residential recycling cart.

Properly disposing of prescription drugs is just as important as properly disposing of the prescription drug bottles.  Simply flushing these medications down the toilet is not the answer.  Even the best sewage treatment plants will not remove prescription medications from the water before it is discharged into rivers and streams. Drugs can affect fish and other wildlife, and they will eventually make their way back into human consumption.

Hanging onto drugs indefinitely is not a good solution either. Old medications may not work properly after their expiration date.  Instead, refer to a blog we posted about proper prescription drug disposal for the Sioux Falls area.  While prescription drug bottles are accepted into our recycling bins, Novak Sanitary Service DOES NOT allow the following medical supplies in our recycling bins:
  • Bandages or gauze
  • Medical Waste
  • Sharps or needles
  • Tubing or catheters
Every action we take toward improving our environment, no matter how small, can have a drastic impact.  Novak Sanitary Service offers residential recycling service that include bi-weekly, curbside recycling along with weekly trash collection. If you have any questions about residential service, or would like to request service, please contact us or call us at 605-338-7126.

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