How to Dispose of a Sharps Container

Needles must be disposed of in a sharps container.
Needles must be disposed of in a sharps container. (Image: syringes image by JASON WINTER from

Just mention needles or other sharp objects and most people cringe. They are sharp, messy, usually have blood or other bodily fluids on them and you cannot throw them away. According to the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety & Health Administration, needles, syringes and lancets—all otherwise known as "sharps"—must be placed in disposable sharps containers. Sharps containers, which are sold at drug and medical supply stores, are so strong they cannot be punctured and are leak proof. Once the container is full, there are various ways to properly dispose of it.

Maintain your sharps container in a safe location and monitor its contents. Dispose of the container when its contents reaches the designated fill line.

Place a bio hazard label on your sharps container once it is full.

Find a place that will dispose of your sharps container. If you are diabetic, you can send your container with a bio hazard label to the American Diabetes Association. For more information about this program, call 1-888-232-2737.

Take your sharps container to a hospital or nursing home. Some states, like New York, allow you to dispose of your sharps containers in these places. This is especially useful if you are not diabetic or cannot make it to a post office.

Contact your state's board of health for disposal locations, if hospitals, nursing homes or clinics do not take sharps containers in your area.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make sure your sharps container does not leak. According to OSHA, if your sharps container leaks you must place it in a secondary leak proof container.
  • If sharps are not properly disposed of, they can infect others with HIV, Hepatitis and many other diseases.

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