FAQs

My sharps container did not come with a return shipping box or prepaid label. Can I get these supplies from SafeNeedleDisposal.org?

SafeNeedleDisposal.org does not provide shipping boxes or prepaid labels to return sharps containers. We are an information resource for home-generated sharps disposal and community-sponsored sharps disposal locations. You will need to follow your state guidelines for disposing your container or bring your container to a disposal location, if available in your area.

Does SafeNeedleDisposal.org pick up sharps containers?

SafeNeedleDisposal.org does not pick up sharps containers. We are an information resource for home-generated sharps disposal and community-sponsored sharps disposal locations. If you are disabled or have a medical condition that prevents you from going to a disposal site, contact your local health department and ask for information on medical waste disposal companies that provide pickup services.

Does SafeNeedleDisposal.org provide sharps containers?

SafeNeedleDisposal.org does not provide sharps containers. We are an information resource for home-generated sharps disposal and community-sponsored sharps disposal locations. Sharps containers are available for purchase at retail pharmacies and medical supply stores.

Most states allow patients to place their used sharps in a sturdy, puncture-resistant plastic container with a screw top lid, such as an empty bleach or laundry detergent bottle. Please review your state guidelines on our website.

I would like to start a community sharps disposal program at my facility. Does SafeNeedleDisposal.org help with this?

SafeNeedleDisposal.org cannot register or license sharps collection programs. You will need to contact your city or county health department. State waste agencies may also be able to provide information on the requirements for your area.

How do I dispose of a sharps container from my business, healthcare facility or pharmacy?

Businesses, healthcare facilities and pharmacies typically fall under regulated medical waste disposal laws. The specifics can vary by state but these facilities are often required by law to contract with a medical waste disposal company to dispose sharps.

SafeNeedleDisposal.org recommends contacting your state waste agency for more information and referrals to medical waste disposal companies. Please call our helpline at 800-643-1643 if you need further assistance.

Will my local pharmacy take my full sharps container?

Unless otherwise mandated, retail and mail-order pharmacies do not take back full sharps containers for disposal. These facilities are required by state law to pay for their medical waste disposal and usually cannot take containers from the public.

Some retail pharmacies provide sharps disposal mail-back kits, which include a sharps container, return shipping box and prepaid mailing label. Ask your pharmacist if this service is available.

Will my doctor, local hospital or fire station take my full sharps container?

Unless otherwise mandated, healthcare facilities and fire stations typically cannot take full sharps containers for disposal. These facilities are typically required by state medical waste laws to pay for their own medical waste disposal and usually do not have the resources to take containers from the public.

Do Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) facilities and collection events accept sharps for safe disposal?

Some areas have HHW facilities and collection events that accept home-generated medical sharps. Check with your city or county solid waste department to find out if these facilities or collection events are available in your area and inquire if they accept sharps. You can also use the ZIP code search on our website to look for programs in your area.

I found a disposal location in my area from a ZIP code search but it is a Container Exchange Program. How does this type of program work?

A Container Exchange Program involves going to a facility to obtain an approved sharps container and in some cases, sign up for the disposal program. You bring your container to your home and deposit your used sharps into the container. When the container is full, you return to it to the facility and it will be exchanged for a new container.

In many cases, you must use the container the program provides. Always contact the facility to confirm their requirements.

What is a Sharps Mail-Back Disposal Program?

Mail-Back programs provide sharps disposal kits, which include a sharps container, return shipping box and prepaid label. Retail pharmacies, medical supply stores and waste haulers provide these kits for purchase. Some pharmaceutical companies provide mail-back programs for injectable medications. For a list of these programs, click on the Solutions tab on our website.

Please note that the return shipping box and prepaid label is for the specific size and weight of the sharps container provided. You cannot send other containers or request different sized return boxes. Furthermore, to use the pharmaceutical mail-back programs, you must have a valid prescription and be actively taking the injectable medication.

I have a diabetic pet that requires daily insulin injections. Can I dispose of the used needles according to state guidelines for home-generated sharps?

State guidelines for home-generated sharps disposal are also applicable for pets.

How do I dispose of unused sharps?

If your unused sharps are still in their original packaging, haven’t expired and do not require refrigeration, the World Medical Relief may accept them. Call 313-866-5333 or visit www.worldmedicalrelief.org for information about donating medication and medical supplies.

However, if you have injectable medications that have expired or require refrigeration, you will need to dispose of them as if they were used according to state or local guidelines.

I use a needle clipper to safely store my used sharps. Can the remaining syringe be disposed of in the household trash?

A used syringe has been needle-clipped may be disposed of in your regular trash. When your needle clipper becomes full, it should be disposed of according to state or local guidelines.

I found a loose syringe in my neighborhood. How do I safely dispose of it so nobody gets hurt?

If you find a loose syringe on the ground, contact your city health department or law enforcement agency. They typically have the equipment to safely handle the syringe and means to dispose of it properly.

I found heroin needles and have placed in them in a container. How do I dispose of these items?

We first recommend contacting your local police or sheriff to find out if they are able to collect the container. If local law enforcement agencies cannot take such items from private property, the container should be disposed of according to state guidelines for safe needle disposal.

My local area does not have any community drop-off locations for sharps and I have concerns with disposing my container in the household garbage. Who can I contact and inform that there is a need for a safe disposal program in my area?

We first recommend contacting one or more of the following: your city or county health department, police or sheriff, state legislators and state waste agencies.

I am a home healthcare professional. How do I dispose of used sharps for my client?

Waste generated by home healthcare aides or nurses in private households is usually considered the responsibility of the company providing the home care services. However, the amount of used sharps waste may be small enough to be considered “home-generated,” in which case the state guidelines for home-generated sharps may be followed. It depends on how frequently the client needs to receive injections and what he or she is being treated for. Another factor is the size of the business and how many clients are being served. Contact your city health department or state waste agency to confirm medical waste disposal laws for home healthcare companies.