2020 E. Grand River Ste 104 
Howell, MI 48843 
Ph: 517.545.5944 
Fx: 517.545.7390 



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The Big Red Barrel Project


Big Red Barrels can now be found at:

  • Michigan State Police, Brighton Post
  • Fowlerville Police Department
  • Hamburg Police Department
  • Pinckney Police Department
  • The Livingston County Sheriff's Department (this location will accept liquid medication)
  • Unadilla Police Department
  • Green Oak Township Police Department


To dispose of pills, capsules, tablets, etc:

  • Bring pills in their original containers to any Big Red Barrel location. (By law, all prescription medication needs to be in its original packaging at all times.)
  • Remove all personal or identifing information from the bottle or packaging once you have reached the barrel.  
  • Place bottle, with medication still inside of it, into the barrel.
  • Congratulations! You've properly disposed of your medication!

*If pills are unable to be secured in their original bottle (example: if a bottle top or container will not stay shut and pills can easily fall out), please place the bottle and medication into a sealed plastic bag and follow the steps given abve.

To dispose of liquid medication:

  • Leave the medication in its original bottle and cross out all personal information.
  • Place the bottle into a resealable plastic bag and dispose of it in the Livingston County Sheriff’s department’s Big Red Barrel.

There is a “no questions asked” policy. This program is free and available for all people to use.

Note- Needles or syringes are not accepted. Go to your local pharmacy and purchase a sharps container. These typically cost $6.00. Put your sharps in the container and return them to: St. Joseph Mercy Livingston Hospital Pharmacy; HIV Aids Resource Center (HARC); or Livingston County Solid Waste Management. For additional information about proper needle disposal, visit the Livingston County website

How it started:

                 Heroin addiction typically starts with prescription medication abuse, specifically heavy pain killers. After numerous deaths throughout Livingston County that were attributed to drug overdoses, Livingston County Community Alliance members (LCCA) members saw the need for a place where people could safely dispose of their unwanted medication. With permanent prescription drug collection units available for community use, it would decrease the likelihood of prescription drug abuse, heroin use, and maintain a healthy environment.

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) mandates that prescription drug take back programs be monitored by law enforcement at all times.  The members spoke with the Livingston County Sheriff’s department to gage law enforcement buy-in. The department said that if LCCA volunteers were willing to do the foot work, law enforcement would support the effort and be willing to handle pill collections and disposal.

                With assistance from community businesses, local law enforcement agencies, students, and other community members, LCCA members were able to design units that looked like big, red, barrels. The big red barrels were first placed in the Michigan State Police Department in Brighton, MI and at the Livingston County Sheriff’s Department in April, 2011.


                By October, 2011, the Big Red Barrels could be found in most police departments throughout Livingston County.  As of March, 2012, 143 pounds of pills have been collected from the Big Red Barrels. There have been numerous calls from cities throughout the State of Michigan and as far away as Boston, MA inquiring about the program! The barrels and the LCCA have received publicity from all local television stations and was recognized by the State of Michigan as a Hometown Health Hero. Click here to see the pictures from the award ceremony.

Continuing Plans:

                The Big Red Barrel program has become a model program for other communities interested in creating similar drug take back programs.The LCCA is looking forward to working with these communities. A Big Red Barrel tool-kit is available for groups to use as a guide for constructing their own drug collection units.  For more information about this tool-kit, contact Kaitlin at 517-545-5944.

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