Improve your health by learning
Diabetes Blog
< Go back

Sharps Disposal

Grace Aguirre, MS, RD
November 21, 2023
November 22, 2023

It is important to understand sharps handling and disposal. Sharps is the medical term for a sharp-pointed object that can cut or puncture the skin.

Sharps Waste is Not Just About Needles

Sharps waste includes:

  • Suture needles, scalpel blades, butterflies
  • Diabetic lancets and insulin needles
  • Vacutainer tubes (blood collection tube), both plastic and glass
  • Phlebotomy needles with vacutainer tube holder attached
  • Capillary tubes, both plastic and glass
  • IV catheters
  • Dental wires and endodontic files
  • Expired or used epinephrine auto-injectors

Why Sharps Disposal is Important?

Sharps that are not disposed properly can cause several environmental issues. Sharps may be contaminated with infectious diseases, such as HIV, Hepatitis and/or other serious diseases and can spread infection if not disposed of properly. They can also clog sewers and threaten public safety.

The FDA Sharps Disposal Guidelines state that used sharps can ONLY be disposed in a sharps container. Sharps containers must be made of puncture-resistant plastic with leak-resistant sides and bottom. They also must have a tight-fitting, puncture-resistant lid. See more information about sharps container here.

Sharps Containers Must Not Be Overfilled

Sharps containers must be discarded when reaching the fill line on the container or label, which is approximately ¾ full.

Never throw used sharps - loose or in a plastic container - into the trash or toilet, and never recycle.

Where to Drop Off the Sharps When It’s Full

Contact your county for a disposal site to drop off your sharps containers. For more disposal options, visit:

We're here to support you.

Contact our call center at 1-866-899-3998. Mon-Fri, 6AM-5PM PST