The Big Red Barrel Project
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. The Big Red Barrel effort has resulted in the secure and environmentally safe disposal of over 15 tons (or 30,000 pounds) of drugs. 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.
How To Drop Off Medications
There is a “no questions asked” policy. This program is free and available for all people to use.
Pills, Capsules, and Tablets
- Bring pills in their original containers and a resealable plastic baggie to any Big Red Barrel location.
- Remove pills from their original container and place them into the baggie.
- Seal the baggie and dispose of it into the barrel. *If you don't have a baggie, please dump the pills directly into the barrel.
- Prior to disposal, absorb the liquid medication with a paper towel.
- Place the soaked paper towel into a resealable plastic baggie. Make sure you have the empty bottle on-hand to ensure compliance with federal laws.
- Dispose of the resealable plastic bag into the Big Red Barrel. It is your responsibility to dispose of the empty bottle somewhere other than the Big Red Barrel.
Needles and Syringes
We now accept syringes/needles in partnership with the Livingston County Drain Commissioner at local events and on the 1st Saturday of each month at Recycle Livingston, 9:00am-1:00pm. Recycle Livingston is located at 170 Catrell St. in Howell, Michigan. For additional information about proper needle disposal, you can also visit the Livingston County website.
Find A Drop Off Location
Michigan State Police, Brighton Post
Fowlerville Police Department
Hamburg Police Department
Pinckney Police Department
The Livingston County Sheriff’s Office
The Livingston County Jail
Unadilla Police Department
Green Oak Township Police Department
Brighton Police Department
Howell Police Department
Any Michigan State Police Post
Law Enforcement Partnership
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 footwork, 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 and have been a success ever since.
Currently, Big Red Barrels could be found in most police departments throughout Livingston County. Since the Big Red Barrel Project’s inception, over 15 TONS of medication have been collected in Livingston County alone. 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.
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 Megan Palmer at 517-545-5944.