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.
- Safe Drug Disposal Stewardship Ordinance – signed 3/26/2015
- SF Environment Safe Drug Disposal Stewardship Ordinance Information
- Safe Drug Disposal Stewardship Ordinance Fact Sheet – San Francisco Department of the Environment, revised 3/16/2015
- San Francisco Board of Supervisors Meeting 3/10/2015 – Meeting video, San Francisco Government TV, 3/10/2015 (Ordinance discussion begins 00:16:20)
- Government Audit and Oversight Committee Public Hearing – Hearing video, San Francisco Government TV, 2/26/2015
- Creating Safe Medicine Disposal Options – Op Ed by London Breed, San Francisco Examiner, 2/25/2015
- San Francisco May Be First Major U.S. City With a Drug Take-Back Program – Ed Silverman, Wall Street Journal, 3/25/2015
San Mateo County, California
- 4/28/15 – Ordinance adopted on consent
- San Mateo County Health System Safe Medicine Disposal Ordinance Information
- County of San Mateo Board of Supervisors Meeting 4/14/15 – Meeting video, San Mateo County YouTube Channel, 4/14/15 (Ordinance discussion begins 1:39:31)
- Proposed San Mateo County Ordinance Would Require Drug Companies to Pay for Disposal Program – Kamala Silva Wolfe, San Francisco Examiner, 1/14/2015
- Educational insert piece: A Prescription for Change: How Improperly Disposed Medications and Needles Are Affecting Our Community Health – San Mateo County Environmental Health, 6/2015
- Summary of Medication Disposal Consumer Survey Results – San Mateo County [PDF]
Santa Barbara County, California
- 6/7/16 – Board of Supervisors heard staff presentation and public comment on their proposed pharmaceutical EPR ordinance and passed by a 3-1 vote, with one Supervisor abstaining. The ordinance can become law after a final vote in two weeks.
- 5/19/15 – Board of Supervisors Hearing held on unused pharmaceuticals; Board directed staff to begin stakeholder process. 10/6/15 – agenda item 15-00784 passed by a 5-0 vote and directs staff to draft an EPR ordinance for pharmaceuticals and return to the Board in early 2016.
- 6/7/16 – Board of Supervisors hearing held on proposed pharmaceutical EPR ordinance; ordinance passed by a 3-1 vote with one Supervisor abstaining.
- 6/21/16 – Proposed ordinance passes with 4-1 vote to adopt. Ordinance becomes effective 7/21/16
- County Board of Supervisors Meeting 6/7/16 – Item #7, Stewardship for Safe Drug Disposal
- County Board of Supervisors Meeting 6/21/16, Stewardship for Safe Drug Disposal
- County of Santa Barbara Press Release – Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors Adopt Safe Drug Collection Program Ordinance, 6/21/16
Santa Clara County, California
- 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.
- County of Santa Clara Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance Information
- County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors Meeting 5/19/15 – Meeting video, County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors, 5/19/15 (Ordinance discussion begins at 3:47:20)
Marin County, California
- 7/28/15 – Ordinance first reading at Board of Supervisors Hearing and received a 4-0 vote to approve, with one Supervisor recusing themselves due to pharmaceutical investments. 8/11/15 – Ordinance read the second time and received a 4-0 vote to adopt, with one Supervisor recusing themselves due to pharmaceutical investments. 9/11/15 – ordinance went into effect.
- County of Marin Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance – Adopted, 8/11/15
- Press and Resources
- County of Marin Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance Information
- Marin Joins List of County Drug Takeback Ordinances As Local EPR Goes Nationwide – California Life Sciences Association, 8/10/15
- Marin: Drug Firms Must Pay for Disposal of Their Medications, Nels Johnson, Marin Independent Journal, 8/12/15
Los Angeles County, California
- 8/11/15 – agenda item #4 passed by a 4-0 vote with one Supervisor abstaining; directed staff to initiate the stakeholder process for development of a pharmaceutical and medical sharps EPR ordinance. 11/13-15 – public stakeholder meeting held at the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration.
- 5/17/16 – After three previous postponed votes, the LA County Board of Supervisors postponed voting on their proposed pharmaceutical and sharps EPR ordinance. The item will be rescheduled for the next Board public meeting held June 14, 2016. The Board heard public comment and asked a few questions.
- Coverage of 5/17/16 vote to postpone:
- Video of EPR ordinance public comment and Board discussion
- Vote on LA County drug take-back proposal delayed again – Stephanie O’Neill, Southern California Public Radio, 5/16/16
- LA Times Column Covers LA County Proposed EPR Ordinance – California Inc., David Lazarus, 5/16/2016
- Dangerous prescription drug battle plan for LA County: Let’s put it off, Hoa Quach, MyNewsLA.com, 5/17/16
- 6/14/16 – The Board of Supervisors voted 3-0 with two supervisor’s abstaining in favor of a motion that will have industry contribute funding towards quarterly take back events, study the results of Walgreen’s voluntary medication collection program in LA County, and create an education campaign on existing take back locations and disposal in the trash. The EPR ordinance may be reconsidered in November 2016.
- Video of 6/14/16 Board of Supervisors meeting staff report, public comment, and Board discussion
- LA County Supervisors set — again — to vote on drug take-back ordinance, Stephanie O’Neill, Southern California Public Radio, 6/13/16
- L.A. County supervisors roll back plans for a drug take-back program, Abby Sewell, Los Angeles Times, 6/14/16
- Pharma loses one batter over drug take-back programs, but wins another, Ed Silverman, STAT News, 6/16/16
- 8/26/16 – County of Los Angeles disapproves the revised plan submitted on 8/12/16 in a letter to industry and identifies areas where the plan needs improvement
- Letter of Support from CPSC and 11 other signatories and List of Key Elements of a Properly Constructed Ordinance, 11/9/15
- County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health Pharmaceutical Take-Back website
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.
- 6/14/16 – Ordinance passed by Board of Health
- Snohomish Health District Pharmaceutical Stewardship
- 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.
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.
- King County Secure Medicine Return Program website
- National Press Release – King County and Alameda County Secure Medication Return 6/26/13
- King County Medication Take-Back Fact Sheet 5/7/13
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.