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Household Sharps

How to Dispose of them Properly

Millions of people use syringes, needles, and lancets to manage their care at home. These syringes, needles, and lancets are called household sharps. Household sharps must be properly stored and then discarded after use to:

  • Protect children, pets, and workers who handle trash from illness or injury.
  • Prevent re-use of sharps and sharing of needles that can transmit infectious diseases.
  • Protect the environment.
  • Keep sharps out of household trash and recycling bins.
  • You can bring your used sharps to any hospital or nursing home in New York State. Just call for information on days, hours, and location of the sharps disposal program. Ask your health care provider, local public works department, sanitation department or trash collector about how and where to dispose of sharps in your area.

How to Store Your Sharps

Follow these guidelines to safely store used sharps in your home until you are able to safely discard them:

  • DO put used sharps (needles, syringes, and lancets) in a sharps container or a puncture-resistant, plastic bottle (for example, a bleach or laundry detergent bottle). Close the screw-on top tightly. You may want to tape it as well. Label the bottle, "Contains Sharps".
  • DO keep sharps containers away from children and pets.
  • DO put used sharps immediately into your container. Keep the container closed between uses.
  • DO bring your container with you when you travel, and dispose of it at home when you return.
  • DON'T flush sharps down the toilet or drop them into a storm sewer.
  • DON'T clip, bend, or recap sharps.
  • DON'T put sharps containers out with the recycling. Loose needles, syringes, or lancets should never be thrown into a recycling bin.
  • DON'T put sharps in soda cans, milk cartons, glass bottles, or in any containers that are not puncture resistant. Coffee cans are not recommended because the plastic lids come off too easily and may leak.

How to Dispose of Your Sharps

There are different ways to safely dispose of sharps, needles and lancets. Here are the best ideas for safety, health and protection of the environment:

  • Call your health care provider, pharmacy or clinic to find out the days and times that local hospitals or nursing homes accept sharps for disposal.
  • Ask your diabetes educator or local American Diabetes Association chapter about sharps collection programs in your area.
  • Call your local public works department or trash collector. (Check the blue pages of the telephone book for their numbers.) Some communities have special household medical waste collection or drop-off days.
  • Call your local health department and ask for the health educator. Ask about sharps collection programs in your county.
  • Request either a statewide listing of Household Sharps Disposal sites or certain counties
  • Sharps Are Not Recyclable - Do Not Put the Sharps Container out with the Recyclable Plastics.