The Return Unwanted Medicines (RUM) Project is a national scheme for out-of-date and unwanted medicines. The scheme urges Australians to return their medicines to their local pharmacy so they can be disposed of safely. Returned medicines are in no way reused or recycled.
You can take your out-of-date and unwanted medicines to any pharmacy in Australia. All pharmacies are equipped to accept all medicines.
Scroll down for information about blister packs and vapes (e-cigarettes).
Why should I return my old medicines?
Old and unwanted medicines around the home are a household hazard and can be dangerous if:
- consumed when they are out of date
- consumed when they are not prescribed for you
- within reach of children
In Australia, 50 children are admitted to hospital every week as a result of poisoning. In many cases this involves the consumption of medicines that are not intended for them. Returning old or out-of-date medicines to pharmacies will ensure they are disposed of safely.
Can blister packs be recycled?
Medicine blister packs (the packaging used for pills and tablets) should not be put in your household recycling bin. Empty blister packs can, however, be recycled through some pharmacies.
Pharmacycle has a recycling program for empty blister packs, with free drop-off points at various pharmacies across the country (there is at least one drop-off point in every state and territory). Participating pharmacies include all Blooms the Chemist stores Australia-wide and Chemist Warehouse stores in Victoria.
If you do not have a participating pharmacy in your area, there is also a paid service where you can post your used blister packs through the mail. Visit Pharmacycle to learn more and to find a participating pharmacy near you.
TerraCycle and Chemists’ Own have partnered to trial a free recycling program for all over-the-counter blister packs. The Blister Pack Recycling Program is currently available in select Chemists’ Own pharmacies throughout New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland. Visit TerraCycle for the full list of participating chemists.
Can vapes be recycled?
Empty vape cartridges, replacement pods and e-liquids (sometimes referred to as vape juice) can be safely disposed of through The Return Unwanted Medicines (RUM) Project at some pharmacies. Vapes often contain nicotine (even if it is not disclosed on the packaging) as well as other chemicals that are potentially harmful to the environment if they are littered or sent to landfill. Putting used vape components in RUM collection bins will ensure they are disposed of safely.
Please ensure the battery inside the vape or e-cigarette has been removed before it is placed in the RUM collection bin as they are a fire hazard and will not be recycled. Batteries that have been removed from vapes can be recycled through the national battery recycling scheme, B-cycle. Find a battery recycling drop-off point in your area.
Single-use vapes cannot be put in RUM collection bins because the battery cannot be easily removed.
Find out more about vape recycling and disposal.