It is unlawful to throw home generated sharps of any kind into the household garbage in the state of California. Each county should suggest a disposal solution for residents. Scroll down and click onto the yellow highlighted website which will take you to Cal Recycle’s website. Follow the prompts to find out what is available in your county. If your county does not offer a disposal program you may want to call your county’s public health or solid waste department to find out what it suggests you do with your used sharps.
Safe disposal options for needles and syringes
Household generated “sharps” include hypodermic needles, syringes, and lancets. They are typically used in the home for insulin injection or for administering medications to treat other chronic diseases such as allergies, arthritis, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, hepatitis B, and HIV.
Managing and disposing of household generated sharps safely reduces pollution to the environment and prevents injury and disease transmission from needle-sticks.
Never leave needles or syringes on streets, in parks, or anywhere else where they could injure someone.
Store at home
If you have a medical facility that accepts sharps from the community for disposal, either purchase a sharps disposal container from a pharmacy or ask your specialty pharmacy to provide you with a sharps container (these are typically readily available if you receive your medication through the mail).
If disposal sites open to the public are not available in your area, DO NOT use a sharps container. Instead, USE an empty rigid plastic consumer product container with a screw-on lid, such as a laundry detergent bottle.
Do not store used sharps in glass bottles, soda bottles, milk jugs, aluminum cans, or coffee cans.
If you are bringing used sharps to a clinic or hospital collection site or using a mail-back program, follow their requirements, which may include use of a pre-purchased sharps container.
Always keep storage containers for used sharps out of the reach of children.
Disposal of Used Needles
Never place containers with used needles or syringes in a recycling bin.
Never place loose sharps in the garbage.
Do not place sharps in containers with a BIOHAZARD label on the outside of the container in the household garbage. Biohazard material is typically not allowed in household trash. Sharps containers with a Biohazard label are usually treated as medical waste. To find out if your state allows sharps containers in the household trash contact your state waste department for specific regulations on household medical waste.
Clinics and Hospital Collection Sites
Some medical waste facilities such as, clinics, physician offices, EMT stations and hospitals have collection programs for needles, lancets, and syringes for use by their patients at home. If your healthcare provider has a collection program, learn about and follow their instructions for sharps storage and disposal.
DO NOT bring used needles and syringes to your clinic or hospital if they do not accept them.
Disposal Options Available to California Residents
Beginning on September 1, 2008, State law (Section 118286 of the California Health and Safety Code) makes it illegal to dispose of home-generated sharps waste in the trash or recycling containers, and requires that all sharps waste be transported to a collection center in an approved sharps container.
Section 117671 of the California Health and Safety Code defines "home-generated sharps waste" as hypodermic needles, pen needles, intravenous needles, lancets, and other devices that are used to penetrate the skin for the delivery of medications derived from a household, including a multifamily residence or household.
The Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) is working to help develop a safe, convenient, and cost-effective infrastructure for collecting and properly disposing of home-generated sharps waste. Decreasing the number of sharps disposed in landfills will help prevent potential health risks to landfill and material recovery facility workers.
California's main page for sharps waste disposal
Mail-back disposal programs allow home sharps users to mail used sharps to licensed disposal facilities as a safe disposal option. Such programs charge a fee for this service. Check with your health care provider or pharmacist, or search the yellow pages or Internet using key words “sharps mail-back.”
II. Needle Destruction Devices
Devices or containers with mechanisms that bend, break, incinerate (destroy by high heat), or shear needles are called sharps needle destruction devices.
A destruction device that incinerates needles and lancets can be used at home to destroy needles immediately after use. These small, portable devices use a few seconds of high heat to melt needles and reduce them to BB-size balls. Previously used only in healthcare facilities, these devices are now available in smaller, less expensive models for home use.
Once the needle or lancet is destroyed by heat in a destruction device, the remaining syringe and melted metal can be safely disposed of in the garbage (not the recycling container).
A needle cutter that automatically stores the cut needles is also useful while away from home when a disposal container is not available. The remains of the syringe after the needle has been clipped can be placed in either a household container or a sharps container (if there is a site available to drop off the sharps container). When the needle clipper is full, simply place it in the storage container (household or sharps container) and dispose of properly.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for questions or more information or call 1-800-RECYCLE (732-9253) or 916-322-4027.