Sharps used at home are not regulated as biomedical waste. However, throwing them in the household trash or flushing them down the toilet presents serious risks for both you and others who may come in contact with such items. Improper disposal of sharps can lead to:
- Needle-stick injuries that cause infection and spread disease;
- Injuries to curious children, waste haulers, recycling workers, and animals; or
- Needles washing up on our beaches and riverbanks.
The DEEP recommends checking with your supplier (i.e. your physician, local hospital, or pharmacy) to see if they are willing to accept properly packaged used sharps. Some companies even offer mail-back disposal services to their customers.
To properly dispose of sharps:
- Seal them in rigid, puncture-resistant containers that you can’t see through (i.e. bleach or detergent bottles, coffee cans, etc.);
- Label the containers “Do Not Recycle;” and
- Reinforce containers with heavy-duty tape before throwing them in your household trash.
- Throw loose needles in the trash;
- Flush needles down the toilet;
- Place needles in soda bottles, cans, or glass containers; or
- Put sharps containers in the recycling bin.