Many communities have free sharps container exchange programs at the local hazardous waste collection site. People who need to dispose of sharps should contact their local health department or hospital to ask about specific local resources.
Some hazardous waste collection sites simply accept sharps containers for free, while others both accept them and provide a free replacement container. Drug manufacturers also sometimes have free mail-in exchange programs. Patients should always ask before assuming these programs are free, since some mail-in exchanges do charge a fee. Hospitals and medical clinics also sometimes accept sharps containers for free.
Some local communities offer sharps pickup as part of a standard recycling program, but this is uncommon. Others offer curbside pickup for a fee and may have special requirements about the type of container and other details.
Regardless of the disposal program that the patient uses, proper technique is important. Sharps containers are designed for a single use and should never be reused. Patients should be careful about how full the container gets and avoid filling it to the very top, because that increases the risk of an accidental stick. Before putting it in the trash or recycling bin, the patient should secure the lid with heavy tape to prevent it from accidentally opening and putting trash disposal workers in danger.