The collection box at the Egremont Town Hall. Photo: Lissa Margulies

Egremont Green News: Rx for empty pill bottles 

Pill bottles aren’t on most recycling lists, but at least one organization considers them a valuable medical supply. 

Egremont — For those with the time and sufficient fixation, it would seem that almost any item can be recycled, once you figure out how. 

Emily Eyre is the author of this article and co-chair of the Egremont Green Committee. Photo: Lissa Margulies

Thanks to an Egremont resident who asked if prescription pill bottles are recyclable (for the most part they are not), I did some research and learned about Matthew 25: Ministries, an organization that collects donated empty pill bottles and sends them, along with medical supplies, to impoverished communities throughout the world that can use them. Many people in these areas receive medications in paper envelopes, which can be damaged by moisture or getting crushed, which renders the medication useless.

On its website, Matthew 25: Ministries offers this mission statement: “Caring for a Needy World With Things We Throw Away.”

To divert at least some pill bottles to this cause, I recently set up a collection box at Town Hall. Several residents have already begun saving their empty pill bottles, preparing them according to the guidelines below and dropping them off. To date, Egremonters have donated 233 pill bottles, enough to fill the first large box, which the Egremont town office recently sent to Matthew 25: Ministries. 

It’s extremely gratifying to see my neighbors embracing this program. Donating empty pill bottles is a small act that can have a big impact on those in need. At the same time, we are keeping these bottles out of the landfill. It’s a win-win situation!

Matthew 25: Ministries accepts donations of empty plastic pill bottles for inclusion in shipments of medical supplies and for shredding and recycling. The program fulfills the dual needs of improving medical care in developing countries and caring for our environment.

Acceptable collection items include:

Prescription and over-the-counter pill bottles

Large and small pill bottles

Pill Bottles with and without child-resistant caps

If you wish to prepare bottles for medical supply shipment, please adhere to the following guidelines: 

Bottles included in shipments of medical supplies must have an all-plastic lid.

Remove labels as best you can. (This can be challenging if a label adhesive is especially strong. If soaking in warm water doesn’t work, try rubbing with oil or a product specifically made to remove adhesive.)

Wash bottles in very hot water and dish soap.

Rinse and dry thoroughly.

Replace lids on clean, dried bottles.

Pill bottles that are not appropriate to include with shipments of medical supplies are recycled and may generate revenue that supports Matthew 25: Ministries’ programs. 

The Egremont Green Committee can be reached at egremont.green@gmail.com.