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Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago

Keep medications out of our water systems

When not disposed of properly, medications can end up in waterways. These medications can flow through our water reclamation plants (WRPs) and enter rivers and streams. This can affect our WRPs and harm fish, plant life and our waterways. Controlling what goes down the drain is an easy and effective way to protect the environment.  

How you can help

You can help keep  medications from entering our waterways by disposing of unwanted medicine properly. Never flush unused medications down the drain or toss expired medicines  in the garbage. 

  • Take unused and expired medications to Cook County Prescription Drug Take Back Network locations.
  • For over-the-counter products, monitor your supply. Store them in one spot in your home to avoid accidentally buying extras. Never flush them down the toilet and never sell them to others. 

For more information about prescription  medications in waterways or to find out more about pharmaceutical waste disposal, visit the United States Drug Enforcement Administration website

Safe medication disposal

The MWRD is proud to play a role in collecting unwanted medicine and keeping our drains  medicines free. The MWRD provides  medication collection boxes as part of the Cook County Prescription Drug Take Back Network. In 2022, we collected more than 829 pounds of  medications, protecting our drains and diverting these substances away from our water environment. Our boxes are located near the main gate at three WRPs and in the lobby of the Barbara J. McGowan Main Office Building in Chicago. If a box is locked, please return during hours of operation or use another location. Do not leave medication outside the box.

A medication disposal box in the lobby of a building


MWRD drug collection box locations

McGowan Main Office Building
100 E. Erie St., Chicago
Monday–Friday, 9 am–6 pm

Calumet WRP
400 E. 130th St., Chicago
7 days a week, 9 am–6 pm

O’Brien WRP
3500 Howard St., Skokie 
7 days a week, 9 am–6 pm

Stickney WRP
6001 W. Pershing Road, Cicero 
7 days a week, 9 am–6 pm

Tips for dropping off medications

  • When possible, keep the medication in its original prescription container. 
  • Remove or cross out your name and personal information.
  • Do not hand medications to anyone. Place them in a collection box for proper disposal.
  • Sharps belong in a special container and should not be placed in a medication collection box.
  • Liquids are not allowed.