Options for syringe disposal can include a sharps container, a collection center, or home needle destruction. In many regions it is not legal to throw syringes in the garbage due to concerns about infectious disease. Needle stick injuries may put someone at risk for infection, which can require a series of potentially expensive and invasive tests and preventative medications. To reduce the need for such treatment, people who use syringes to manage medical conditions or for other reasons should make sure to dispose of them appropriately.
For people who only need syringes for a short period of time to manage something like a series of injections, a collection center can be a good option. They can save up their syringes and drop them off at a hospital, medical center, drug store, or other facility. Sometimes waste management companies hold hazardous waste collection days, and may accept used needles and other medical sharps on those days. It is advisable to call ahead to get information about syringe disposal drop off hours and any restrictions.
Another option is a sharps container for syringe disposal. These containers are made from tough, puncture-resistant plastic and bear clear markings warning people about their contents. Medical offices and drugstores sometimes distribute them for free or at low charge. When a container is full, it can be mailed to a service company or dropped off at a disposal center. People concerned about cost can ask for financial assistance, as in many regions pickup and drop-off are free to reduce the risk of needles in the garbage.
Needle destruction is another method of syringe disposal. This requires the use of a machine that destroys the needle and treats it with heat to kill any organisms present. Once destroyed, the needle can be deposited in the trash like household garbage. Such equipment can be expensive, and it is advisable to check with a waste management company to confirm that a given make and model will produce waste acceptable for disposal in the general household garbage.
Programs to promote safe syringe disposal are available in many cities. These programs often provide listings of drop off centers that accept needles for free, or sponsor sharps container programs that allow people to pick up and drop off containers at no charge. When storing needles at home, used or unused, it is important to keep them in a secure environment out of reach of children and pets, because they can cause injuries.