Recycle Plastic Pill Bottles and Get Rewards


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How to recycle plastic pill bottles
Creative Commons License photo credit: Purple Penning

We recently received an email asking how the little brown plastic bottles that pharmacies use to package prescriptions can be recycled, especially if a local government recycling program will not take them. Fear not! There doesn’t have to be more waste.

Take a look at the bottom of your plastic medicine or prescription bottle and see if there is a number 5, sometimes with the letters PP below it. The PP stands for polypropylene. Number 5 plastics are very common, including many types of yogurt or hummus tubs, and other things you regularly bring home from the grocery store. For any of you so inclined, be sure to read our 2-part spread on plastic recycling numbers and pick up tons of extra knowledge to guide you on any recycling quest.

Preserve Products offers a Gimme 5 program to recycle this type of plastic into their products like toothbrushes and razors. If you don’t live near one of the Gimme 5 retail locations, you can send items to them by mail. They do accept prescription medicine containers so long as they’re clearly stamped with a #5 recycling symbol. On their website, they ask that If the bottles have a sticker or paper label on them, please make your best attempt to remove it (soaking in water helps).

Get Rewards

To make recycling even easier, Preserve also teamed up with Recyclebank and launched a mobile app that helps make recycling #5 plastic easier, and you get discounts and deals at local and national businesses, and for products from Preserve and their partners. So now you know- not only do you save plastic pill bottles from a landfill, they can be recycled into something new and useful AND you reap extra rewards. Go forth and recycle!

For some other ways to reuse plastic pill containers, see our post on recycling film canisters, as they are similar in size and shape. Be sure to properly dispose of any expired medication.

Recycle Old Medications

Now, see information on how to recycle old medications safely and responsibly. Finish up by learning why you should not throw or flush away your unused and expired medications, and where to take them instead.

Links to products featured on RecycleScene are affiliate links. We try and only feature products that close the recycling loop. Make a purchase of recommended products on our site, and we get a small percentage of affiliate commission to maintain our site. Read more in the Terms of Use & Disclosure link in footer. Thanks!


20 Responses to Recycle Plastic Pill Bottles and Get Rewards

  1. We recycle pill bottles, yogurt containers (great seed starters), plastic bags and all other plastics are saved by my grandchildren & put in a bin at school.

  2. I have heard that there is a need for recycling medication bottles. Where do I donate them so doctors don’t have to wrap pills in little pieces of tissue etc.. There has to be something set up for their use!!?

  3. I get about a dozen pill bottles per month. Can I recycle them like cans are recycled? Or we are just Donating? Still not a problem since I have no use for them. I’m just in need of a few dollars.

  4. Whole foods recycles plastic medicine bottles must have #5 on the bottom and the label must be removed

  5. Many questions…so I have bunches of pill bottles. Anyone have an answer as to where they can be donated?

  6. I have hundreds of pill bottles I would like to donate. Please let me know where and who would be taking advantage of my donation. Ty. Debora Farnsworth

  7. I have at least 8 empty pill bottles each month. I’ve read that they can be donated to veterinarians or animal shelters since they have to purchase them. I just sent an email to my vet to see if she would be interested in mine.

  8. The Preserve website does not say that they accept pill bottles. Also, when people say they put plastic in a container at a school, are you checking to see what actually happens to that stuff? I have been teaching students to recycle for 4 years now and it is a real challenge to be sure that things are actually being recycled and not sent straight to a landfill.

  9. What the article is saying is look at the bottom of your plastic medicine or prescription bottle and see if there is a number 5, and if there is then Preserve accepts it in their Gimme5 program.

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