Can You Recycle Medicine Bottles? (And What To Do With Old Bottles)

At a point in time, you have found your way to the pharmacy to get prescription drugs either for yourself or for someone you know. In such a situation, then, you are all too familiar with medicine and how they often come in bottles.

Of course, you know, after exhausting the medicine, you can’t just keep the bottle forever. You dump them however way you deem fit. And then you proceed to get another prescription in a medicine bottle.

This cycle goes on and on. And you don’t concern yourself with what happens after you are done with the medicine bottles. However, have you ever paused to take a minute and ask yourself, ‘what happens to these medicine bottles after I dump them?’

Can you recycle these medicine bottles? Why is recycling something as seemingly insignificant as a medicine bottle deemed important? What other ways can you make use of old medicine bottles?

In this article, we would put all the above questions into perspective by answering them extensively. We would also touch on similarly related questions.

Dive in!

Are Medicine Bottles Recyclable?

Nowadays, recycling is such a widespread phenomenon. Almost everything is being considered to undergo the recycling process. As such, medicine bottles are not excluded.

Now, to the focal question of this article, can you recycle medicine bottles?

Honestly, the answer isn’t as straightforward as you would expect. Typically, you should be able to recycle medicine bottles because they are plastics. And we know for a fact that you can recycle some plastics.

However, this may not always be in the case of medicine bottles. This is because, beyond the plastic-type, some factors come into play with medicine bottles, for instance, its composition and size.

So, when answering this question, the answer would be yes and no. Confusing right? Relax. Let us explain!

Medicine bottles come from a wide range of plastics. Some of these plastics are recyclable. And they are known by a resin code ranging from #1 to #7. Even a certain plastic called polypropylene #5 belongs to these classes of plastics.

You can recycle these plastics. However, the bottle’s size might pose a problem and deter them from getting accepted by recycling companies.

So yes, it is possible to recycle medicine bottles. But they cause so many problems for recycling companies as a result of their size. And as such, most recycling companies will reject it.

As you can see, the issue of recycling medicine bottles isn’t straightforward. It largely depends on the composition of the medicine bottle, as well as the rules of your recycling company.

If your recycling company feels they can handle recycling these small items, it’s all well and good. Ensure that you remove the label on it and ensure that it is empty before handing it over for recycling.

However, we don’t come across this occurrence frequently. So, there is a very high chance that recycling companies will turn down medicine bottles. And they would end up in the landfill and wait an extremely long time to become biodegraded, which eventually never happens during your lifetime.

Why Is It Important to Recycle Medicine Bottles?

So far, we have been able to assess the possibility of recycling medicine bottles. Now, you are probably wondering what the whole fuss about recycling medicine bottles is.

Why is the recycling of medicine bottles deemed very important? Well, let’s find out!

By now, you know for a fact that medicine bottles come from plastics. And these plastics cannot undergo the biodegradation process.

So now, picture hundreds of millions of little medicine bottles that have refused to decay scattered on landfills across the planet. Now you realize why you need to act against these occurrences.

Well, if you didn’t, here comes more clarity. These bottles pose a wide range of problems to the marine environment. This is because, in one way or the other, they find their way to marine bodies. And they damage aquatic life here.

Worse, when the sun is at its peak, these plastics can release harmful fumes that affect our ozone layer. And in case you didn’t know, this is of the causes of climate change.

So, recycling of medicine bottles is deemed important to achieve reduced greenhouse emissions and decreased environmental pollution.

How Do You Dispose of Empty Prescription Bottles (Safe Ways to Dispose of Prescription Bottles)?

Except you are an alien from a planet with no regard for the environment, then you would be genuinely interested in this. Far gone are days when lots of persons had no regard for waste disposal. Thankfully, in present times, you need to know how to dispose of your old empty prescription properly.

Well, the first thing you need to know is that utmost care should be taken when disposing of medicine bottles. You should not just toss these bottles in the trash can or dumpster just because it seems like the only available option. You’ll need to do more than that.

So, are you wondering how? Here’s the best option.

1. Pill Bottle Shredding

The safest and most effective way to dispose of your prescription bottles is through a process called pill bottle shredding. Pill bottle shredding is simply a way of disposing of medication bottles through an industrial shredder machine.

Why Pill Bottle Shredding?

You may be wondering why pill bottle shredding? It would help if you mostly opted for it because;

  • It guarantees the safest means of protecting the sensitive medical information contained on the bottle. That way, safety, as well as compliance with the law, is consistently ensured.
  • It also prevents the risk of getting found and used by a dumpster diver for malicious uses.

So, when next you are done with a medication bottle, be sure to contact a shredding service rather than a recycling company to help with its disposal.

If you call a recycling company, they will most likely reject it due to the size. But a pill bottle shredding service will have it shredded and collected in bulk. This way, it even makes the medicine bottles stand a higher chance of being recycled.

Although not as effective as the pill bottle shredding method, other ways through which you should dispose of empty prescription bottles include:

2. Handling It Over to the Pharmacy to Dispose

You can choose to dispose of your old medicine bottles by handing it over to the pharmacy. Before doing this, make sure you check to see if they allow for the return of bottles.

3. Donation

You can also decide to donate them to charity organizations that would, in turn, organize its reuse in places where medical treatment is not that sound.


What Can You Do with Old Medicine Bottles?

You might not be so interested in pill bottle shredding or disposing of your old medicine bottles. Still, you don’t want them to end up lying around fallow in your house.

You have possibly been racking your head on what best to use your old medicine bottles for. Well, not to worry. There are various other alternatives that you can put your old medicine bottles to use with.

So, are you looking to jump in on this? Here are some popular options you may opt for.

1. Storage

You can make use of your old medicine bottles to store certain items, especially toys you don’t want lying around. Of course, this largely depends on the size of the pill bottle. Some of the things that can be stored are; Legos, action figures, Barbie clothes, finger paint, bubble solution, crayons, and dice, among others.

It is not just limited to toys. You can as well make use of pill bottles to store office items such as paper clips and pushpins.

2. Electronic Project

Suppose you are working on an electronic project for your science class. Perhaps to build a light bulb, the pill bottles can prove to be valuable equipment.

You can use the pill bottles to mount LEDs or switches or pass wires and circuits through it. They would also be perfect for use as Christmas lights.

3. Create A Sewing Kit

You can create a sewing kit out of an old medicine bottle.

This is very simple. All you need do is put in the needle, safety pins, straight pins, spare buttons, and thread inside the plastic prescription tube, and you are good to go.

4. Mini Survival Kit

Additionally, your old pill bottles can serve as a mini survival kit. By keeping things like spare change, matches, as well as other necessities, you might need while camping or boating. With little things like this, you will be sure to brace the storm and survive.

5. Non-Prescription Bottle

You can use your old prescription bottles as a way of holding your non-prescribed drugs. For instance, you can fill up these bottles with vitamin-c.

6. Portable Perfume

If you are someone that likes wearing perfume, but wouldn’t want to carry the whole bottle, then your old medicine bottles can come in handy. All you need do is soak a cotton ball or two in your perfume. Place it inside the pill bottle and close it. The tight cap would prevent the scent from escaping; you can constantly reach the bottle and use your perfume at will.

7. Condiment Container

Among the list of alternate uses for your old medicine bottles is that you can use them as containers for your nagged lunches. They are especially great for granola, salad dressing, and mayo, among others.

8. Making Mini Ice Packs

You can as well make use of your old medicine bottles to make mini ice packs. Fill them up with water and refrigerate. Then, once they get iced, you have got your mini ice pack.

Other things that you can use your old medicine bottles include applying them to serve as a toothpick holder. If you are into gardening, you can also use them as a seed keeper.


You might just ignore the proper disposal of medicine bottles since you think it poses no danger. After all, there are more global challenges that need to be focused on.

However, over 4 million Americans obtain drugs with prescription bottles every year. Now imagine, if you continue being indifferent about its disposal. Well, if you continue like this, would it also lean towards becoming a challenge the whole world needs to address in no time?

It doesn’t necessarily have to be so. You can contribute your quota to the environment’s good. All you need to do is get conscious of how you dispose of seemingly insignificant items, starting from your medicine bottles.

We have shown you how to make it easier. So, get to it and keep safe.


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About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.