Proper Way To Dispose of Syringes

Proper Way To Dispose of Syringes
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    If you’ve spent time in the medical field, you’re probably familiar with sharps. Sharps are needles and any other sharp object that puncture the skin.


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates how to dispose of sharps regardless of your industry or how you use them. Even if you are dealing with syringe filter membranes, you may need to dispose of them in a specific way.

Whether you use sharps daily in your home or run a business that uses needles, you need to know the proper way to dispose of syringes. Start by checking your community guidelines for rules and regulations around waste disposal in your area.

Disposing of sharps could be as simple as mailing a package, or you might have to drive your medical waste to a location that will take it.

Know Sharps Disposal Container Requirements

You must dispose of medical waste in FDA-approved containers. Containers approved for syringe disposal are made from rigid plastic to prevent sharps from poking through, and they have markings to indicate when the box is full and that it contains hazardous waste.

Companies approved to produce medical-grade sharps disposal containers make them in various sizes, such as bulk and travel.

Alternatively, one can use heavy-duty plastic household containers, such as detergent bottles, when supplies are limited and you follow specific guidelines.

Additional requirements for alternative use plastic syringe disposal containers include:

  • leak-resistant material with a tight lid
  • labels indicating the container holds sharps
  • labels indicating the container holds hazardous waste
  • labels indicating the fill line (follow the same three-fourths rule as FDA-approved containers)
  • placing the container in an upright and stable condition during use

Dispose of Syringes by Mail

A quick and easy way to dispose of needles and other sharps is by mail. Stericycle, Sharps Assure, and other companies with syringe mail-back programs will take your disposal containers as long as you follow their guidelines correctly.

Pay close attention to how each company requires you to package, seal, and label your medical waste. Fees vary, depending on the size of the container and the shipping distance.

Drop Off Your Sharps

If your city or community has an exchange program, you can get clean syringes for your used ones. Many medical centers and waste collection sites—like ones that take paint and motor oil—may take your sharps containers, though you might have to pay a fee.

You may be able to drop-off your sharps at a local:

  • hospital
  • pharmacy
  • doctor’s office
  • fire station
  • police station
  • hazardous waste collection site

Throw Your Syringes in the Trash

In some states, it is legal to throw your FDA-approved sharps container in the trash. Under no circumstances should medical waste go in a recycle bin. Check with your local sanitation department to find out what you can throw in the garbage.

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Sharps containers that you throw in the trash must be labeled: “Do Not Recycle. Household Sharps.” Containers must have secured lids and be composed of heavy-duty plastic to protect sanitation workers.

You have many options if you need to dispose of sharps containers. The proper way to dispose of syringes involves keeping yourself and anyone else handling the container safely.

Needles and syringes may still contain bodily fluids, medicine, or chemicals that could harm another person upon exposure. Play it safe by following these guidelines.

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