How to Discard Syringes and Other Sharps

Zoning Administrator Brian Bannon sent along a flyer from the Vermont Department of Health with information about disposal of syringes. The text is below and the flyer PDF is attached so you can download, print out, and share. Thanks, Brian!


How to Discard Syringes and Other Sharps

Vermont Department of Health
108 Cherry Street
PO Box 70
Burlington, VT 05402
800-464-4343 •

Syringes, needles, lancets and other sharp items used to treat diabetes, allergies and other medical conditions are called sharps. Syringes and needles are also used to inject drugs of abuse. Sharps can be found where you don’t expect them – in a house, in a park, or on the street.

Why should I care about sharps?

Diseases like hepatitis B & C and HIV can be spread by being stuck with a sharp that was used by someone else.

What if I find a sharp?

• Wear heavy-duty gloves.
• Use a tool like tongs or pliers to pick up the sharp and put it into a heavy-duty plastic container.
• DO NOT disconnect the needle from the syringe. Put the whole thing, needle end down, into the container.
• DO NOT handle sharps with bare hands.
• DO NOT throw sharps into the trash or the toilet.
• Teach children to tell an adult if they see needles. Warn children not to pick up needles or other sharp objects.

How should I get rid of sharps?

Choose a Container
• Use a heavy-duty laundry detergent or bleach container with a screw top, or a container specially made for sharps. Look for the mark #2 HDPE on the bottom to make sure the plastic container you use is strong enough.
• DO NOT use soda or water bottles.
• Carefully put used sharps in the container with the needle end down.

Label & Store
• Label the container with the warning: DO NOT RECYCLE!
• DO NOT fill the container full. Leave a couple of inches of space at the top.
• Store the bottle out of reach of children and pets.

Seal & Dispose
• When the container is ready for disposal, screw the cap on tightly and cover the top with strong tape, like duct tape.
• Dispose of the container with household trash.
• DO NOT put this container in recycling. 6.2014

What should I do if I get stuck?

• Stop what you are doing.
• Let the wound bleed.
• Wash with soap and running water.
• Apply antiseptic and/or bandage.
• Note the time of the injury, the needle’s location and what it looked like. Was it dirty? You may need a blood test or vaccine. Go to an emergency room or urgent care center right away.

Can’t we just have the needle tested?

No, testing needles has not been determined to be helpful. For additional information check: “

Comments | 3

  • Honestly, I would not do

    Honestly, I would not do this. I don’t have an iota of confidence that leaving a container of used syringes on the curb is a smart or
    medically sound way to dispose of them. This means I would need to take all the syringes out of the medical container I store them in – put them into another container that I may or may not have- put it out on the curb and hope that nobody opens it and comes in contact with the needles or that the trash collectors actually dispose of them safely.
    Everything is so difficult in this town.

  • needles and sharps disposal

    From WSWMD web site:

    Syringe Collection Program


    Needles Can Hurt!

    Putting used needles in the trash creates a hazard for the people who have to handle the waste. It’s especially dangerous to put needles into reycling bins. The recyclables are sorted by hand and this puts the WSWMD staff in great danger!

    To encourage safe disposal of the syringes, needles and lancets used by many residents in southeastern Vermont, we are now collecting used sharps and syringes at the Windham Solid Waste Management District (WSWMD) Convenience Center during operating hours.

    If you don’t collect your used needles in sharps container, please do the following with your used needles:

    Make a large warning label that says: “USED SYRINGES” and “DO NOT RECYCLE.” Put the label on an empty PETE #1 plastic bottle like a soda bottle. (Studies show this type of container to be the most puncture resistant.)
    Carefully put each of your used syringes into the bottle.
    When it is full, put heavy tape over the closed bottle cap and bring it to the WSWMD Convenience Center during operating hours. There is no charge.
    DO NOT put the container in your recycling bin!
    This program is subsidized for residents only of the WSWMD communities.

    WSWMD is proud to provide the home health care community with this safe option for disposal.

  • Syringe vs Pen Needle

    For people who use insulin pen needles often or every day there are some practicalities that distinguish them from syringes.

    The use of a syringe is different than using pen needles. Pen needles come in a plastic cap that that is used to screw on to the top of the pen vial. (Insulin pens are aptly named as they look a bit like writing pens with a pull off top only thicker) After your insulin is injected you screw that cap off where the needle stays recessed. The pen needles can be disposed by wrapping them in the tinfoil wrapper of your alcohol wipe. These pen needles can be disposed in your regular trash and are not recycled. The insulin pen vial and cap can be recycled with your other recyclable glass and plastics.

    Syringes used by people for their injectible drugs (heroin or insulin) are quite long and do not have a protective cover. Syringes are better disposed in as safe a way as possible in a puncture safe container.

    The people who use pen needles really do not have to use the WSWMD program as mentioned above – but it is important to use that program for syringes and any other uncovered or unwrapped needles of any kind.

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