You’re Doing That Wrong

State regulations on sharps disposal vary, but a mail-back container is a solution accepted in every state.

How to properly dispose of your personal needles and sharps

As the number of medications that must be injected by patients grows, so does the number of reported accidental needle ‘sticks’ for municipal solid waste collectors and workers.  With diseases like HIV and Hepatitis potentially transmitted by dirty needles, in addition to other possible illnesses, MSW departments are concerned for the health of their employees, and rightly so.

Improvised sharps storage

But there is no good reason why the health and safety of these workers need be put in jeopardy when accidental sticks are easily preventable.  Virtually every municipality and state in the country requires that used medical needles and sharps be disposed of in puncture-proof containers.  And while some locations will allow for improvised solutions, such as empty laundry detergent bottles, most do require purpose-specific sharps containers.

Needle clipping system

The dangers of accidental sticks are so great that several states have gone so far as to completely ban disposal of used sharps and needle in the household waste, even if properly contained in a purpose-specific sharps container.  A number of states require disinfecting any sharps before disposal in the household trash.  Some locations require all needles and sharps be destroyed before disposal.  This can be with the use of an at-home needle clipper or plaster of Paris.  

Mail-Back Programs are a Solution

Mail-back sharps system

TerraCycle can provide an easy, safe solution for sharps disposal.  We feature puncture-resistant sharps containers in a wide array of sizes– from household sized containers, perfect for the person needing to inject once a month all the way to institutionally-sized containers for small medical offices or tattoo/piercing parlors.  And every sharps container we offer comes with prepaid postage and shipping containers, so that disposal is handled safely, professionally and properly.

Our mail-back medwaste disposal meets or exceeds sharps disposal requirements in every state, including California, Massachusetts and Oregon.  And unlike most medwaste processors, TerraCycle utilizes hemostat technology to decontaminate the sharps and needles, then recovers the recyclable metals, limiting the impact on the environment.

TerraCycle has compiled a list of state regulations on the disposal of sharps and needles for your convenience.  If you have any questions or would like more information on one of our mail-back programs, contact a TerraCycle Regulated Waste representative now.

State Regulations

StateRequirementsSub-sectionsRequirements
AlabamaCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Disinfect at home w/ bleach
Double bag, seal, discard in household trash
AlaskaContact medical provider, pharmacy, fire station
for local disposal options -or-
Commercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Discard with household trash- not recycling
ArizonaCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Discard with household trash- not recycling
ArkansasCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Disinfect at home w/bleach
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Double bag and discard with household trash
CaliforniaDisposal of home generated sharps waste PROHIBITED
Commercially available APPROVED sharps container
Transport to collection center (pharmacy, hospital, household hazardous
waste facility) -or-
Mail-back program
ColoradoCounty laws supersede state requirements
Commercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Discard with household trash- not recycling
Mesa County
El Paso County
Larimer County
Refer to local regulations
ConnecticutCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container or
Sharps/Needle destruction device
  No clear or glass containers
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Discard with household trash- not recycling
DelawareCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Double bag
Discard with household trash- not recycling
District of ColumbiaCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Disinfect at home w/bleach
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
FloridaCounty laws supersede state requirements
Commercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Discard with household trash -or-
Mail-back program
54 counties out of 67
have regulations in
place
Refer to local regulations
GeorgiaCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Double bag
Discard with household trash- not recycling
HawaiiCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Disinfect at home w/ bleach
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Double bag
Discard with household trash- not recycling
IdahoCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Double bag
Discard with household trash- not recycling
IllinoisContact medical provider, pharmacy, fire station
for local disposal options -or-
Personal needle destructive device
Commercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Discard with household trash- not recycling
Northern Cook County
LaSalle County
Further regulations
http://www.epa.illinois.gov/Assets/iepa/waste-management/medication-disposal/sharps-fact-sheet.pdf

http://www.knib.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Safe-Disposal-of-Sharps.pdf
IndianaCounty laws supersede 
IowaContact medical provider, pharmacy, fire station
for local disposal options -or-
Commercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Discard with household trash- not recycling
KansasCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Disinfect at home w/ bleach
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Double Bag
Discard with household trash- not recycling
KentuckyCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Discard with household trash- not recycling
LouisianaCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Fill with Plaster of Paris
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Discard with household trash- not recycling
MaineContact medical provider, community health center
for local disposal options -or-
Commercially available sharps container or
Strong plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Seal container and ensure outside is free of visible contamination
Discard with household trash- not recycling -or-
Mail back program -or-
Personal sharps needle destruction device (free to residents)
MarylandContact medical provider, pharmacy, fire station
for local disposal options -or-
Commercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Discard with household trash- not recycling -or-
Mail back program -or-
Personal sharps needle destruction device
MassachusettsDisposal of home generated sharps waste PROHIBITED
Commercially available sharps container or puncture-resistant container
Transport to collection center (pharmacy, hospital, household hazardous
waste facility) -or-
Mail-back program
MichiganContact medical provider, pharmacy, fire station
for local disposal options -or-
Commercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Discard with household trash- not recycling -or-
Mail back program -or-
Personal sharps needle destruction device
MinnesotaContact medical provider, pharmacy, fire station
for local disposal options -or-
Commercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Discard with household trash- not recycling -or-
Mail back program -or-
Personal sharps needle destruction device
MississippiContact medical provider, pharmacy, fire station
for local disposal options -or-
Commercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Discard with household trash- not recycling -or-
Mail back program -or-
Personal sharps needle destruction device
MissouriContact medical provider, pharmacy, fire station
for local disposal options -or-
Commercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Discard with household trash- not recycling -or-
Mail back program -or-
Personal sharps needle destruction device
MontanaContact medical provider, pharmacy, fire station
for local disposal options -or-
Commercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Discard with household trash- not recycling -or-
Mail back program -or-
Personal sharps needle destruction device
NebraskaContact medical provider, pharmacy, fire station
for local disposal options -or-
Commercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Discard with household trash- not recycling -or-
Mail back program -or-
Personal sharps needle destruction device
NevadaCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Discard with household trash- not recycling -or-
Mail back program
* Washoe County
   Exception
New HampshireContact medical provider, pharmacy, fire station
for local disposal options -or-
Commercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Discard with household trash- not recycling -or-
Mail back program -or-
Personal sharps needle destruction device
New JerseyContact medical provider, pharmacy, fire station
for local disposal options -or-
Commercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Discard with household trash- not recycling -or-
Mail back program -or-
Personal sharps needle destruction device
New MexicoCounty laws supersede 
New YorkState law allows disposal of home generated sharps in the regular trash,
however, local laws may prohibit
Hospital and nursing homes are required by law to accept properly
contained sharps:
Commercially available sharps container, puncture resistant plastic or
metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Seal the container with heavy-duty tape
North CarolinaCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Discard with household trash- not recycling 
North DakotaContact medical provider, pharmacy, fire station
for local disposal options -or-
Commercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Discard with household trash- not recycling -or-
Mail back program -or-
Personal sharps needle destruction device
OhioContact medical provider, pharmacy, fire station
for local disposal options -or-
Commercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Discard with household trash- not recycling -or-
Mail back program -or-
Personal sharps needle destruction device
OklahomaCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Discard with household trash- not recycling
OregonDisposal of home generated sharps waste PROHIBITED
Commercially available APPROVED sharps container
Transport to collection center (pharmacy, hospital, household hazardous
waste facility) -or-
Mail-back program
PennsylvaniaCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Disinfect at home w/bleach
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Double bag and discard with household trash
Rhode IslandCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Double bag and discard with household trash
South CarolinaCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Double bag and label with state-supplied warning sticker
Discard with household trash
State-supplied warning
stickers available for
free at 800-285-5257
South DakotaCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Disinfect at home w/bleach
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Discard with household trash
TennesseeCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Discard with household trash
TexasCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Discard with household trash
UtahContact medical provider, pharmacy, fire station
for local disposal options -or-
Commercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Discard with household trash- not recycling -or-
Mail back program -or-
Personal sharps needle destruction device
VermontCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Discard with household trash
VirginiaCounty and Municipal regulations supersede
Commercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Discard with household trash
City of Salem
Fairfax County
Prince William County
WashingtonCounty and Municipal regulations supersede
Commercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Discard with household trash
King CountyKing County prohibits disposal of used sharps in residential trash
West VirginiaCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Disinfect at home w/bleach
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Double bag and discard with household trash
WisconsinDisposal of home generated sharps waste PROHIBITED
Commercially available sharps container or puncture-resistant container
Transport to collection center (pharmacy, hospital, household hazardous
waste facility) -or-
Mail-back program
WyomingCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Discard with household trash