Needle, Syringe & Sharps Disposal
This web page contains used sharps home disposal guidelines to help protect your family, waste handlers and the environment.
"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.
Sharps are a Danger in your Home's 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 people with substance abuse problems.
Sharps are a Danger in the Garbage Truck
Once in the garbage truck, sharps containers are likely to 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!
View the locations participating with the Michigan Medical Waste Regulatory Program to accept contained used residential sharps.
Sharps Disposal Guidelines
- Step 1: Purchase a sharps container from a pharmacy when you buy new sharps. Sharps containers cost a few dollars and hold anywhere from 30 to 300 used sharps, depending on the container size you select. These containers are puncture-resistant with a special opening to accept sharps. Facilities collecting sharps to may also accept other forms of sharps containers. Please check with each location before arrival. For instance, our home toxics collection accepts sharps in sealed and labeled screw-top laundry detergent containers.
- Step 2: Perform your routine blood tests and injections and place the used sharps into the sharps container. Seal, then tape the container shut when it is full.
- Step 3: Take the filled sharps container to a residential disposal location or, if you are a Washtenaw County Resident, the Home Toxics Collection Center. Give the filled, sealed sharps container to the pharmacist or staff member. Please do not leave the sharps case unattended. Sharps collected through these programs will be properly disposed in compliance with all medical waste regulations.
Sharps Disposal Dos
- Do store sharps containers in areas that are child and animal proof.
- Do label sharps containers, "SHARPS, Dispose of Properly."
- Do secure the top of a full sharps container and seal with sturdy tape.
- Do return full sharps containers to participating pharmacies for proper disposal.
- Do handle sharps used away from home in a responsible manner as well.
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 all patients taking the medication, which is convenient and provides a safe and environmentally-friendly way for patients to dispose of their HUMIRA needles following an injection. The Sharps Mail-Back program helps protect patients and healthcare professionals by allowing for the safe collection and proper disposal of used HUMIRA needles. The program is available to all patients living in the U.S, 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). There’s no cost to sign up for this service and enrolling is easy.
- 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: BD™ Sharps Disposal by Mail. It encompasses containment, storage, transportation, treatment, disposal and tracking of sharps, all in one package.
- GRP and Associates Mail-Back Sharps Disposal
Mail-back sharps disposal 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. It is a safe and easy alternative to large-volume pickup services. The system is shipped to you; where you fill, package, and mail it back to us for proper disposal.
- Heritage Environmental Services: PhD Life Cycle Program
Heritage Lifecycle, in partnership with Sharps Compliance, Inc., is offering products for mail back disposal of regulated medical wastes. Products include biohazard spill kits, kits for disposal of sharps and other regulated medical waste, as well as dental amalgam. The disposal by mail systems are complete systems for the 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 waste. With no contracts to sign, users can dispose of their full sharps containers on their schedule instead of on a contracted schedule. Each one of the systems is assigned a unique permit by the U.S. Postal Service allowing us to receive sharps waste through the mail.
- Republic Sharps Needle Disposal and Mail Back Service
As a leading national waste and recycling services provider, Republic Services offers an environmentally-responsible solution to managing home-generated medical waste. The Republic Sharps Mail Back Disposal Service is 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 mail-back program that may be the right solution for your needs. Our professional sharps mail back solutions are perfect for handling needles, lancets, syringes, and other sharps.
- Sharps Assure
SharpsAssure is a division of Med-Assure, a provider of innovative, efficient, and environment-friendly medical waste disposal services. The SharpsAssure division was developed specifically to meet the needs of small-scale users such as doctors’ offices, clinics, and private individuals that do not generate enough medical waste to warrant a contracted pickup service.
- Sharps Compliance, Inc.
Sharps Compliance provides cost-effective solutions for the proper management of sharps, medical waste, used healthcare materials and unused patient dispensed medications. They manage comprehensive programs for clinics, offices and businesses throughout the United States - providing innovative, compliant solutions that reduce costs and keep our customers safe from incidents.
- Waste Management Sharps Disposal Program
Residents who need a solution for their sharps disposal problem can be served if a public agency contracts with Waste Management's At Your Door Special Collection to provide mail-back kits to residents. Public agencies that contract with Waste Management can tell their residents to call At Your Door Special Collection toll-free 800-449-7587 and order a kit. The kit is mailed to the resident. The resident removes the sharps container and materials from the shipping box and places sharps in the container. When the sharps container is full, the resident places the sharps container into the provided box. The sharps container, along with the completed shipping form, is placed into the postage-paid shipping box and dropped into the U.S. Mail. The U.S.P.S. delivers the container to an EPA / State permitted incinerator where the materials are destroyed. Residents do not need to leave their home to obtain a kit.
- Sharps" include syringes with attached needles and disposable lancets
- One out of every 20 people have diabetes and use an average of 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.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 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