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Pill Vial Recycling Program

One of the easiest ways to get involved in plastic reduction is to start a pill vial recycling program at your Veterinary practice. Below are the instructions and materials needed to successfully get your pill vial recycling program started! If you find videos helpful, I have also linked my 'How To' video below. Happy Recycling! 


  • A container that can be separated for a 'clean' and 'dirty' side

  • Chlorhexidine solution or other appropriate disinfectant

  • Area where pill vials may be air dried

  • Glass amber jars to hold prescriptions waiting to be refilled in an already dispensed vial i.e. for pets with medication refills 

  • A method to alert staff as to which clients are participating in the program. Most Veterinary software have the ability to place alerts. If you are a paper-record practice, you may wish to purchase coloured stickers.


  • Sign interested clients up for the pill vial recycling program. You may also wish to have a QR code available in your exam rooms where clients can sign themselves up. If you wish to have a QR code, please contact me and I am happy to create this for you.

  • You will need two codes to monitor how many clients are signing up vs. how many clients are bringing vials back after sign up. I suggest having codes like this in your system:

    • ​​When a client signs up,  enter them in your system as 'Recycling Program Sign Up' 

    • When pill vials are brought back, enter them in your system as 'Pill Vial Recycle'

  • Determine the client initiative you wish to provide. At my practice we offer a 10% discount on the dispensing fee for each pill vial brought back. Providing initiatives is a great way to say 'thank you!' as well as to ensure continual participation in the program.

  • For pets on chronic medications or refills:

    • When the client calls to have a medication refill and will be bringing a pill vial back to be re-used, place the medication to be filled in a glass amber jar appropriately labelled (I ordered two sizes of amber jars from AVP). When the client arrives, you will collect the pill vial from them, transfer the medication from the amber jar it has been stored in to the vial they have given, and place the new prescription label on the pill vial. ​This method is used if you are unable to prepare medications upon arrival.

  • For clients who wish to bring back pill vials with NO prescription refills:

    • Clients can either receive a credit on their account or can use the discount received to purchase other items in your practice​

    • Dirty vials are to be soaked in an appropriate disinfectant (I use a chlorhexidine rinse), scrubbed, rinsed thoroughly with water, and air dried overnight before being transferred to the 'clean' side of your container for re-use.

To Summarize:

Client brings back vial(s) -> Code applied to client file: 'Recycling Program Sign Up' and/or 'Pill Vial Recycle' -> Apply discount to client file -> Pill vial received is either refilled or placed in 'dirty' area of your recycling area ->Dirty vials are cleaned/dried and placed in 'clean' area for re-use.

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