Options for Safe Needle Disposal in Southern California
Beginning on September 1, 2008, California state law makes it illegal to
dispose of sharps waste in the trash or recycling containers. The new
regulations will require sharps waste to be stored in approved sharps
containers and will require those sharps containers to be disposed of
at an approved sharps collection point or hazardous waste site. A sharps
consolidation point is an intermediary site, like a pharmacy or doctor's
office, where sharps are collected and then transported to a hazardous
What Are Sharps?
Sharps include lancets, hypodermic needles, syringes, scalpel blades and
broken glass articles (other than household items). According to state
law, an approved sharps container is rigid, leak-proof, puncture resistant,
sealed and clearly marked with the bio-hazard symbol.
Safe Disposal Options
Drop-off Collection Sites
Sharps users can take their filled sharps container to appropriate collection
sites, which may include doctors' offices, hospitals, health clinics,
pharmacies, health departments, community organizations, police and fire
stations, and medical waste facilities. These programs often give self-injectors
the option of continuing to use empty household containers to collect
sharps, but prevent the sharps from entering the household waste stream.
Household Hazardous Waste Collection Sites
Self-injectors can place their used sharps in a special sharps container
or, in some cases, an approved household container, take them to municipal
household hazardous waste collection sites, and place them in the sharps
collection bins. These sites also commonly accept hazardous materials
such as household cleaners, paints, and motor oil.
Residential Special Waste Pickup Services
Self-injectors can place their used sharps in a special container, similar
to a recycling container, and put it outside their home for collection
by trained special waste handlers. Some programs require customers to
call for pickup, while others offer regular pickup schedules.
Used sharps are placed in special containers, which are mailed (in accordance
with U.S. Postal Service requirements), to a collection site for proper
disposal. Mail-back programs are available for individual use by sharps
users, and can also serve as a disposal method for community collection
sites. These programs work especially well for rural communities, communities
that don't already have a medical waste pickup service (e.g., school
systems, retail outlets, sporting arenas, casinos), and individuals who
wish to protect their privacy.
Syringe Exchange Programs
Sharps users can exchange their used needles for new needles. Exchange
programs are usually operated by community organizations, which properly
dispose of the used needles collected at exchange sites.
For More Information
To set up a safe disposal program in your area,
Download (.pdf) the Needle Disposal in Southern California Guide and Disposal Points
List in Southern California
Visit the Safe Community Needle Disposal
- Ask your healthcare provider or local pharmacist if they offer disposal,
or if they know of safe disposal programs in the area