Although each state has varying guidelines on how to rid of medical waste, standard recommendations are to use sharps containers to collect needles and to mix expired medicines in kitty litter. The Food and Drug Administration recommends that consumers dispose of household medical waste according to the community guidelines.
For sharps, the FDA recommends the use of sharps disposal containers to prevent accidental injury. Some states, such as New York, operate take-back or drop-off collection sites that allow consumers to drop off contaminated sharps at any hospital or nursing home within the state. Consumers should still place non-contaminated and infectious sharps inside sharps containers, label the containers accordingly, and place them in trash compactors or locked dumpsters.
Consumers may mix unwanted or expired medicine in coffee grounds or kitty litter, or put them inside a container with the appropriate label before placing the container with the household trash. Long-term care facilities, such as hospices, may also accept unused medications. While some medications are flushable, other medications, such as anti-depressants, birth control pills and antibiotics, may harm the environment and are not flushable.
Medical waste includes any clinical or laboratory trash that poses a potential risk to human health or the environment.