Blog Post

Disposing of Household Sharps & Needles

This sharps container should be placed in the trash.

You probably know that nurses and other health care workers are exposed to potential injury and infection from needles and other "sharps." However, did you realize that workers collecting trash and recycling are also exposed to these risks?

In Rumpke's service area (Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and West Virginia) state laws permit the disposal of sharps in the trash when they are used by an individual for their treatment. However, it is important to properly prepare sharps so they aren't a danger to trash collection workers.

What are sharps?

Sharps include needles, syringes, lancets (also called finger-sticking devices), auto injectors, etc.

Who is a Home "Sharps" User?

An insulin-dependent diabetic or terminally ill individual who is cared for by family members at home may produce sharps waste.

The DO's of Proper Sharps Disposal

DO place sharps in a rigid, leak-proof, puncture-resistant container with a tight fitting lid. (For example: bottles for laundry detergent, bleach, soda two-liters and coffe cans) 

DO secure the lid of the container with heavy duty tape. 

DO label the container with the word SHARPS on all sides in big block letters (see photo). 

DO place the container in the trash.

The DON'Ts of Sharps Disposal

DON'T throw loose needles and other sharps in the trash. 

DON'T use plastic milk jugs as containers for sharps (they can poke through). 

DON'T put loose needles and other sharps in a recycling bin. They are not recyclable. 

DON'T put the sharps container in the recycling bin. It cannot be recycled.

What are Other Ways to Dispose of Sharps & Needles?

Check with the company or pharmacy where you purchase medical supplies regarding disposal alternatives. Some stores have programs to accept sharps containers for no cost or a small fee. The containers are treated and disposed. Your local health department may also have more information.

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