City and County Ordinances for Safe Disposal of Sharps and Pharmaceuticals

Information below is for each county in California that has an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) model ordinance for safe medicine and sharps disposal.

City & County of San Francisco, California

In 2010, San Francisco introduced a Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance. However, in 2012 the city chose to instead accept $110,000 from PhRMA and Genentech to fund a pilot project to collect data on the issue. In August 2013 the same two organizations provided another payment of $125,000 to fund the pilot project an additional year. A separate Safe Drug Disposal Information Ordinance was passed in May 2011 to supplement the PhRMA-funded pilot program by requiring pharmacies that won’t host a bin to advertise those that do.

The Safe Medicine Disposal Pilot program has been well-utilized, with over 37,000 pounds collected in the first 26 months.

Following the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling upholding Alameda’s ordinance, San Francisco Board President David Chiu reintroduced the Ordinance on October 21, 2014. Board President Chiu was elected to the California State Assembly in November 2014 and Supervisor London Breed became the author of the ordinance and was elected President of the Board of Supervisors. The ordinance was heard in committee on February 26th with a 3 – 0 vote to move the ordinance to the full Board. The ordinance was heard before the full Board twice – once on March 10, 2015 where it received an 11 – 0 vote to adopt and again on March 17, 2015 where it received a second and final unanimous vote to adopt. San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee signed the legislation on March 26, 2015 and the ordinance’s date of enactment is 30 days after signing.


San Mateo County, California


Santa Barbara County, California

Santa Clara County, California

  • 3/7/18- The County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors has passed legislation (Ordinance No., NS-517.92) requiring sharps manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies who produce and distribute medicines that require home injection to submit and implement a comprehensive plan for safe disposal of consumer-generated sharps waste.
  • 3/14/17 – Ordinance to amend the existing Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance in order to clarify and strengthen ordinance requirements prior to implementation of MED-Project’s proposed stewardship passed by a 3-0 vote with two Supervisors recusing themselves.
  • 5/19/15 – Ordinance introduced at Board of Supervisors Meeting and passed by a 3-0 vote with two Supervisors recusing themselves due to pharmaceutical investments.  6/23/15 – Ordinance second reading before Board and received a unanimous 3 – 0 vote to adopt, with two Supervisors recusing themselves due to pharmaceutical investments. 7/23/15 – ordinance went into effect.
  • Resources:

Marin County, California

Los Angeles County, California


Santa Cruz County, California

  • 9/1/15 – agenda item #27 passed and directed staff to initiate the stakeholder process for development of a pharmaceutical and medical sharps EPR ordinance.  10/8/15 – a public stakeholder meeting was held at the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors Chambers.  11/10/15 – Ordinance read for the first time at the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors Hearing and received a 5-0 vote to approve the first reading and then approved again at the second reading 12/8/15 with a 5-0 vote. 1/8/16 – Ordinance goes into effect.
  • 8/9/16 – City of Santa Cruz proposed Safe Drug and Sharps Disposal Ordinance passes by a 7-0 vote. Ordinance goes into effect 9/9/2016
    • City of Santa Cruz and National Stewardship Action Council press release, Updated 10/21/16
  • 8/25/16 – City of Capitola proposed Safe Drug and Sharps Disposal Ordinance passes by a 5-0 vote. Ordinance goes into effect the 31st day after passage.


Snohomish County, Washington


Sonoma County, California

  • 9/22/17 – Sonoma County Board of Supervisors announce Safe Medicine Disposal Ordinance in press release
  • 10/4/16 – Sonoma County Board of Supervisors held a Safe Medicine Disposal – EPR Study Session (Agenda Item #21) at their public Board Meeting and directed staff to continue working cooperatively with the existing Safe Medicine Ordinance Collaborative, cities, and other stakeholders and return to the Board with a pharmaceutical EPR ordinance proposal that includes a deeper analysis and recommendations regarding the ordinance options and a program implementation plan.
  • Sonoma County Press Release – Sonoma County to Develop Safe Medicine Disposal Ordinance, 10/4/16
  • Video of 10/4/16 Board Study Session:

Contra Costa County, California

  • 12/20/16 – Final Safe Drug Disposal ordinance adopted on consent. Ordinance is effective 30 days from passage. County staff will return to the Board with an update before July 2017 and work to address multiple additional items including the makeup of the Stewardship Organization that implements the program to be listed as a 501-c3 and adding specificity to the method of medication disposal.
  • 12/13/16 – Motion to waive the ordinance reading and fix 12/20/16 as the adoption date of the revised ordinance passes unanimously by 5-0 vote.
  • Video of 12/13/16 Board of Supervisors Meeting:

 San Luis Obispo County, California

  • 3/11/15 – Ordinance passed by the the San Luis Obispo County Integrated Waste Authority (IWMA) Board of Directors by an 11-0 vote with two Directors absent.  Ordinance is “Transitional to EPR” policy since a different group in the product chain – in this case retailers – is having to pay for the program but not producers.  4/11/15 – Ordinance takes effect. Effective 9/11/15, retail pharmacies in the IWMA region are required to provide a mail back program and/or collection receptacle program to dispose of unwanted prescription drugs as required under the Ordinance
  • 1/10/2018 – Full EPR Ordinance passed by the IWMA shifts the cost burden of the program to the producers.

Tehama County, California

  • 7/3/18 –  Ordinance passed by the Tehama County Board of Supervisors by a 4-1 vote.  The ordinance covers both medications and sharps and is the first to require the stewardship organization to be an IRS c3 to promote public benefit and be transparent as a non profit.  This is the first rural county to pass an ordinance with both medications and sharps collection paid for by producers.

New York State

  • 7/11/18 – Drug Take Back Act Take Back Act passes. Key points from the act include that ALL pharmacies must participate and the collection of sharps are not included.

King County, Washington

On June 20, 2013 the King County Board of Health in Washington passed the Secure Medication Return Rule & Regulation to create a drug take-back program for King County residents. The program promotes the safe disposal of unused prescription and over-the-counter drugs, and will be funded and operated by the drug manufacturers. On November 27, 2013 four groups of major drug manufacturers sued the County. The suit was dismissed following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5/26/2015 decision not to hear industry’s legal challenge to the Alameda County Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance.

Status – On October 16, 2015, King County approved the Return Meds LLC stewardship plan and rejected the King County MED-Project LLC stewardship plan. The MED-Project submitted a revised proposed stewardship plan for review in accordance with the December 14, 2015 deadline. The compliance deadline for the approved stewardship plan to be fully implemented is no later than April 13, 2016.

Additional Washington Counties with EPR medicine disposal ordinances: Kitsap (2016), Pierce (2016), Snohmish (2016), Whatcom (2017), Clallam (2017)

This video describes the drug manufacturers’ MED-Project program that is working in Snohomish and King counties under their Secure Medicine Return ordinances. The WA Secure Drug Take-Back Act (SHB 1047) is modeled on these successful local laws.

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