for Disposal of Needles/Syringes (Residential Sharps)
Discarded syringes with needles from households, referred to as ‘residential sharps’, can present a risk to solid waste workers who may suffer a needlestick injury when handling your garbage. Needlestick injuries increase the risk of exposure to infectious bloodborne diseases, such as Hepatitis and HIV, from contaminated needles.
Whatcom County Solid Waste Rules currently allow the disposal of residential sharps into household garbage cans when they are properly packaged and labeled. Residential sharps are hypodermic needles, syringes with needles attached, scalpel blades, and lancets that are generated from self-treatment.
The following requirements must be followed when disposing of your residential sharps:
Either use a red pre-labeled plastic sharps disposal container or follow the steps listed below for other disposal options.
- Label and use empty plastic two-liter pop bottle or similar plastic container with the warning: DO NOT RECYCLE: CONTAINS USED SYRINGES. Download and print the warning sticker or, if you don't have access to a warning sticker, label the bottle with a permanent marker. Place your used syringes in the bottle. When the bottle is full, screw the cap on and seal it with tape. Dispose of the filled, sealed bottle in your household garbage.
- DO NOT place the bottle in your recycling bin, since the syringes are not recyclable. DO NOT add bleach to the container, since bleach may not completely disinfect the needles and could spill and injure you or the people collecting your garbage.
- Consider clipping the needle points using a ‘needle clipper’ that traps and contains the needle portion of the syringes inside the clipping device. The clipped syringes can then go directly into your household garbage, as well as the needle clipper when it is full. Be sure to clip the entire needle portion of the syringe. Needle clippers can be purchased at some local pharmacies.
- Used scalpels or lancets from household usage can also go in the sealed, labeled plastic containers, along with the needles.
Thank you for properly disposing of your residential sharps!
A printable PDF
version of Sharps Disposal Information
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