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Trash or recycle? Here is how to properly dispose of medical sharps

WISCONSIN — In 2019, almost 40 percent of Wisconsin’s recycling facilities reported that sharps were the top contaminant in the recycling stream.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is reminding residents that medical sharps, such as needles, syringes, and lancets, cannot be thrown away in the trash or recycling bins.

There are over 300 sharps collection sites throughout the state.

“By disposing of sharps at designated collection sites, you are preventing needlestick injuries to workers at solid waste and recycling facilities,” said DNR Waste Reduction and Diversion Coordinator Jennifer Semrau. “Even when sharps are in containers, the equipment at recycling facilities can break them open, exposing workers doing hand sorting to sticks from used needles.”

Workers that receive needlesticks have to undergo months of testing.

There are several ways to properly dispose of household sharps:

  • Take your sharps to a registered sharps collection station
  • Contact your doctor, clinic or local hospital; many healthcare facilities accept sharps
  • Call a local pharmacy, hospital, public health department or solid waste or streets department about local options
  • Reduce the amount of sharps you have to dispose of by clipping the needles off the syringe.
  • Needle-less syringes can be tossed in household trash