Most of us do not spend much time thinking about where our waste goes.
But if you use biomedical equipment, it’s on you to responsibly dispose of waste that could pose a risk to others.
Many people use sharps to manage health conditions. If you do, you should have access to a sharps container.
Below, we’ll go more in-depth about what sharps are and how to dispose of them safely.
What Are Sharps?
Sharps are any biomedical device used to puncture the skin. Sharps include:
Autoinjectors such as insulin pens
Lancets (blood-prick devices used for diabetes, home HIV tests etc.)
Even if you use sharps at home, such as for diabetes or a pet’s medical condition, you should still consider them medical waste. This means they require special treatment for safe disposal.
What’s a Sharps Container?
You should not dispose of sharps like regular garbage.
For secure and safe disposal, sharps should be discarded in FDA-cleared medical sharps containers.
Containers are available through companies selling medical supplies and through pharmacies. Anyar sharps (needles, syringes, etc.) should own a sharps container.
Sharps containers are made of solid plastic and marked with a fill line. Other than that, they take a variety of forms, including travel versions.
The signage on a container denotes the contents. It carries warnings for safety and potential biohazardous material.
You’ll see these containers in hospitals, pharmacies, and in some public toilets.
Once a sharps container is full, you’ll need to responsibly dispose of it. They can often be disposed at supervised sites like a police station, hospital, or doctor’s office. If you have a local waste collection site, it may offer a hazardous waste collection.
Some FDA-approved sharps containers work on a mail-back program. For a fee, you can send the container off to be safely disposed of.
Why Is a Sharps Container Important?
Used sharps are incredibly dangerous without proper storage. They present a risk to adults, children, and pets, especially when disposed of in public areas.
That’s why you should place sharps in the correct container immediately after use.
Sharps represent an obvious risk of cutting and puncture wounds, which could lead to secondary infection. But the real risk is in what they may be carrying.
Used sharps can hold blood-borne diseases that can pass on to others. Life-altering diseases such as HIV, Hep-B, and Hep-C can be carried by sharps. A single injury from a used sharp could change a victim’s life forever.
For this reason, sharps should never be placed in standard waste disposal, whether in household waste, public refuse, or flushed down the toilet.
Especially in built-up areas, discarded sharps present huge problems. When not disposed of correctly, sharps can find their way into parks, school playgrounds, public toilets, and children’s sandpits.
Municipal authorities now spend thousands in clean-up activities targeted toward biomedical waste.
Above all else, it’s important that you take responsibility for any sharps you use. Please keep the above in mind when using sharps to do your bit for your local community.