Sharps Disposal

Since my son’s diagnosis, we were told the Orange Co. (FL) Fire Department provides a service where you go to a fire station, and they will give you a container, and once it is full you drop it there and they will give you an empty one. For us, it works great, today I received an email about sharps disposal programs nationwide. How do you dispose of your sharps?

Sharps should never be thrown loosely into the trash. It’s important to dispose of your used needles and sharps properly.

Safety tip #1
Used sharps should be disposed of in an FDA-cleared sharps container, or a puncture-proof, plastic container, like an empty laundry detergent or bleach bottle.

•	When the container is ¾ full, put the lid on and seal with duct tape.


•	Place it in your household trash, if permitted by your state.

Safety tip #2
Disposing of sharps might be different, depending on where you live, work or travel. Visit and enter your zip code to find out how sharps can safely be disposed of in your local community.

Safety tip #3
Some alternative solutions for safe disposal include:

•	Drop Box or Supervised Collection Points

•	Household Hazardous Waste Collection Sites

•	Mail-Back Programs

•	In-Home Individual Disposal Products 
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I called public health and they told me I could take them to the needle exchange. No thanks…

Has anyone tried burning pen needles? I’m wondering if the metal would melt in a reasonably hot fire or if I’d just end up with thousands of tiny needle segments

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For people who use MDI, this could be a compact and convenient solution that could reduce the frequency of your need to dispose sharps. The device claims to hold 1,500 needles.


I use a pump but I’ll sometimes use a syringe. When I’m done with the syringe, I’ll clip the needle and discard the syringe absent the needle into the trash.


This seemed like a good resource and listed a place nearby I did not know about. What it didn’t list is what I use: As part of its contract for trash, recycling etc, our local collector is required to provide (mail-in) sharps containers to its residential customers who need it. No hassle to get started, and free. All it took was a phone call.

And for any of you on this site who happen to be public works / municipal administrators who negotiate waste collection contracts, please put this in your collection company’s next contract if it isn’t already :wink:


Same here. High crime neighborhood. No thank you.

I’m in Canada, but I get a sharps container from my pharmacy and drop it off when it’s full to pick up an empty one. I actually use Shoppers for their giant sharps containers even though I use London Drugs as my pharmacy, because London Drugs only has the smaller size. I like the larger size because I can drop it off twice a year as opposed to every month.

I use this when I’m travelling, as it’s really inconvenient to lug around a big old sharps disposal container. I’ve found it really useful.

When I travel, I use an empty Tic Tac container (the bigger size). It fits sharps perfectly, and is small enough I can pop the whole thing in my big sharps container when I get home. :slight_smile: Also, I find the clipper doesn’t clip my infusion sets or cartridge needles.


I dispose of my dex sensors, occasional syringes, pump insets, lancets, test strips etc. in large plastic water bottles with tops and then throw them out in the recycle labeled sharps. That is what I was told to do. I have small plastic q tip cases to put lancets and test strips etc. in when I’m out which I wash out.

In Ontario or Prince Edward Island – the only provinces with provincial sharps collection programs – you can enter your postal code on the following site and get a list of nearby pharmacies or other disposal outlets that collect sharps.

In other provinces and territories, the site will give you a listing of local pharmacies that take back unused medications, but many of these also accept sharps, so call around.

I suppose I’ll catch a lot of flack for this, but I’ve been throwing my standard syringes in the trash for at least the last 25 years. The only thing I do differently is to snap the needle end off before discarding. I can usually do this with my fingers, but a small pair of pliers makes it easier.

So, what goes in the trash is a needle cap with just the tip of the needle snapped into it. No amount of jostling or processing is going to extract the needle. If you tried to do that purposefully, I think you would have to use some picking tools to extract it.

I suppose if you were really anal about this, you could put those tips in a bleach bottle. But the whole thing seems like overkill to me. In my situation, the garbage is picked up by a truck with a mechanical arm and dumped to landfill. As far as I know, no human hands are ever involved.

Contrast that with shipping special containers to individual diabetics and having them drive or ship the filled containers to a pickup point. I’d like to think that if we were going to all this additional effort and environmental load we were gaining a significant safety benefit. I’m not seeing it?

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I use a laundry detergent plastic container or a large similar plastic bottle. I drop pump and cgm needles in it. If I use a syring, I snap the needle off and drop both in the bottle. When the bottle is full, it goes in the trash. Been doing it for close to 36 years.

How about something like this The Disintergrater Plus- Needle Disposal System.

I did that, a few years back. I was using 1ml disposables to inject and just keeping them; sharps disposal in the US was hilarious (well, it’s pretty bad in the UK too), like “we can make lots of money off this and you have to do it”. So I had thousands of 1ml syringes, a burn barrel, and some paint cans. Worked wonderfully; sharps sterlized and enclosed in plastic. The trick is to use a very hot fire; no burning wet leaves under them like the people down south seem to do. I’ve got lots of slash so I just used that and the sharps were in basically sealed containers so it was a home made incinerator.

BTW, I didn’t just tell you any of that. I did, in fact, make it all up, or if I didn’t I’m going to do a Reagan.

Realistically, NO ONE in the US, or the UK for that matter, takes any notice of this stuff; we just throw the stuff, carefully wrapped, into the trash. A UK doctor was totally bemused when I asked him about it. It really is no different from cutting yourself on a tin can - do you go down to the hospital, or the fire department, and ask how to dispose of the now contaminated tin can? Do you think anyone else in the US does?

John Bowler

Thanks, @terry4 I bought this and it came in the other day! It works like a charm.

I was a bit mystified that it had a rattle to it, prior to my clipping the needle; it was almost as if there were already needles in them. Each one sounded the same; my husband thought perhaps it was the spring mechanism. I bought a pack of three; one for my husband; one for my purse; and one for my OmniPod syringe.


Just some general comments:

The reason you are supposed to put needles and syringes into a sharps container is twofold. One is the needle issue. The other is to prevent the residual drug (in this case insulin) from being rained on and seeping into the groundwater. A tin can is different - it contains organic material that decomposes.

  • In the state of Washington, you are required to take them to an approved disposal site. There you can dispose of them free, with your own sharps container

  • The pharmacies in Washington charge to take them and dispose of them

  • In Minnesota, we are allowed to throw them into the trash (sharps container or plastic bottle)

A Glucerna or similar heavy plastic bottle will hold lots of pen needles and lancets. You should seal the top and mark it “sharps, do not recycle” before disposal.


All gone.

At least 100 into a nice hot spot and no smoke at all.


For years I have been trying to find someone who can give my a logical explanation for why the instructions say to stop when it is only 75% full. I can think of no logical reason when you are only using pen needles and lancets. I can understand if you have larger sharps but when the largest item i use can be dropped sideways into the opening of my bleach bottle, why the need to stop when there is still 5" of empty space (enough to hold about 6 more weeks).

I consider myself fortunate… The local trash company pays, distributes, and collects no questions asked Sharp’s containers through local Walgreens. I generally walk out with 4-5 at a time and go back every other month.

They supply the containers to limit the risk of infection caused by recycling/trash workers who sort out recycling and composting in the refuse stream. It also as @kMichel stated keeps the residual drug from contaminating the local bay and watersheds