A sharps container is safely disposed of at a supervised collection site or drop box or through a mail-back program or needle exchange program. Self-injectors should use one of these methods instead of placing sharps in the trash, advises the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Safe disposal of used needles is important to curb the transmission of serious diseases, such as hepatitis or human immunodeficiency virus, that are transmissible by people getting stuck with a dirty needle. People with an elevated risk of getting stuck by improperly disposed-of used needles include garbage handlers and employees responsible for cleaning, states the EPA.
Drop boxes or supervised collection sites are located at doctors' offices, pharmacies, hospitals, health departments or fire stations, according to the EPA. For a fee based on the size of the container, the mail-back program allows patients to put the used sharps in a sharps container and mail the needles to a collection site where they are disposed of properly. With a needle exchange program, used sharps are taken to the exchange site and turned in for new sharps. To find out where these programs are found in the local area, contact a pharmacist or a local health care provider.