Needle, Syringe & Sharps Disposal
This web page contains used sharps home disposal guidelines to help protect your family, waste handlers and the environment.
View the locations participating with the Michigan Medical Waste Regulatory Program and accepting used residential sharps.
"Sharps" are needles, syringes with attached needles, and disposable lancets. Although it is legal to place household needles and sharps containers into residential trash, this is not a safe option for our community. Even "self-sheathing" or retractable sharps post a danger because the plastic casing is easily broken.
Sharps are dangerous in your household trash
Inside a trash can or bag, the loose or containerized sharps can injure family members and waste collectors or inappropriately fall into the hands of children or others.
Sharps are dangerous in a garbage truck
Once in the truck, sharps containers can break open from the pressure of the trash compactors. Many workers run the risk of sharps contact from trash on sorting floors, in recycling lines, and in landfill operations. The best solution to reducing risks from sharps is to take them to sharps collection centers!
Sharps Disposal Guidelines
- Step 1: Purchase a sharps container from a pharmacy. They cost a few dollars and can hold from 30 to 300 used sharps, depending on the container’s size. Sharps containers are puncture-resistant with a special opening. Facilities collecting sharps to may also accept other forms of containers, so check with each location before arrival.
- Step 2: As the sharps are used, place them immediately into the sharps container. Close the container, then tape it shut when full.
- Step 3: Take the full container to a residential disposal location or other participating location such as the Home Toxics Center (Washtenaw County residents only). Give the filled, sealed sharps container to the pharmacist or staff member. Do not leave the container unattended. Your used sharps will now be properly disposed of in compliance with all medical waste regulations, and are not contributing negatively to anyone’s safety!
Sharps Disposal Dos
- Do store sharps containers in areas that are child- and animal-proof.
- Do label sharps containers, "SHARPS".
- Do secure the top of a full container and seal with sturdy tape.
- Do return full sharps containers to participating pharmacies for proper disposal.
- Do responsibly handle sharps used away from home.
Sharps Disposal Don’ts
- Don’t place loose sharps into the trash.
- Don’t break, bend, clip, recap or reuse needles.
- Don’t place sharps in aluminum cans, coffee cans, glass jars or clear plastic containers. These containers break too easily.
- Don’t place sharps containers in recycling bins.
- Don’t flush sharps down the toilet.
Mail-In Sharps Disposal Programs
- Abbott’s HUMIRA Sharps Mail-Back Program
Abbott offers a complimentary Sharps Mail-Back program to U.S. patients taking the medication, whether they use the pre-filled syringe or the auto-inject pen. Patients can sign up for the Sharps Mail-Back service on HUMIRA’s website or via its toll-free number 800-448-6472). Humira Sharps Program PDF
- BD Sharps Disposal by Mail
BD is a medical technology company that serves healthcare institutions, life science, researchers, clinical laboratories, industry, and the general public. BD offers a convenient option for safe needle disposal.
- GRP and Associates Mail-Back Sharps Disposal
GRP provides a cost-effective solution for disposal of needles, syringes, and lancets; as well as other types of sharps and small quantities of medical waste. The system is shipped to you and mailed back for proper disposal.
- Heritage Environmental Services: PhD Life Cycle Program
Heritage Lifecycle, in partnership with Sharps Compliance, Inc., offers mail back disposal of regulated medical wastes for proper disposal of used needles, syringes, and other small quantities of bio-hazardous waste.
- Mail Your Sharps.com
The mail-back sharps program is designed for syringes, lancets, needles including those used in tattoo and body piercing studios, other sharps and small amounts of medical and dental waste. No contract necessary to utilize the program.
- Republic Sharps Needle Disposal and Mail Back Service
As a leading national waste and recycling services provider, Republic Services offers the Republic Sharps Mail Back Disposal Service as a simple, cost-effective, confidential way of disposing of used sharps and needles.
If you generate a small amount of biohazardous waste, such as sharps or “soft” medical waste, Stericycle offers a mail-back program for handling needles, lancets, syringes, and other sharps.
- Sharps Assure
Sharps Assure was developed specifically to meet the needs of small-scale users such as doctors’ offices, clinics, and individuals.
- Sharps Compliance, Inc.
Sharps Compliance provides programs for clinics, offices, and businesses for the proper management of sharps, medical waste, used healthcare materials and unused patient dispensed medications.
- Waste Management Sharps Disposal Program
If Waste Management is the company that hauls your recycling or trash away, you can call request a sharps container kit that is mailed to you and returned through the mail once full.
- "Sharps" include syringes with attached needles and disposable lancets
- One out of every 20 people have diabetes and use about two sharps daily
- There are over 5,000 insulin-requiring residents in Washtenaw County
- Over 7 Million sharps are used in homes and discarded annually in Washtenaw County
- Improperly discarded sharps can injure family members, waste and recycling workers, or end up in places where they are a danger to the public, such as beaches.
- Sharps are a hazard because they can be contaminated with Hepatitis, HIV (which may lead to AIDS), tetanus, and other harmful diseases.
- As always, do not share or reuse needles.
- The CDC found that syringe access programs lower HIV incidence among people who inject drugs by 80%.
- One-third of all AIDS cases in the U.S have been caused by syringe sharing.