Sharps Medical Waste

What is SharpPile of Needles

Every year, 7 billion sharps get thrown away in the United States (Diabetes Forecast). However, what exactly are sharps? Sharps are considered any syringe, pen, infusion, lancets, and glucose sensor introducer needles. These items help deliver life-sustaining medication, but what is good for people often may be bad for sanitation workers and other unsuspecting people who handle garbage and recycling. Up to 850,000 people are injured every year by sharps, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This number reflects injuries related to home waste, not incidents at healthcare facilities. Sharps in-home waste can carry communicable diseases such as hepatitis and HIV. To protect yourself, your family, and the community from harm, sharps should be safely disposed of.

Type of Container That Should Be Used Sharps

Used "sharps" should be placed in a sharps container. These containers are traditionally red with and often have a biohazardous waste decal present or an easily identifiable label, and are always a hard plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. If you can't or don't have a Sharps container, you can make your own.

How to Make Your Own Sharps ContainerSharp Needle Being Places in a Contaier Marked With DO NOT RECYCLE Written on It

A laundry detergent bottle is often the best common household item for a DIY Sharps container. Your laundry detergent bottle should have a screw-on lid. Do not use coffee or glass containers. Once you've selected your laundry detergent bottle or any other hard plastic bottle with a screw-on lid, follow these steps:

  1. Clearly label your container "Sharps Biohazard. Do Not Recycle."
  2. Add sharps to your container until it's two-thirds full, then
  3. Screw on the lid and tightly seal with heavy-duty tape such as duct tape.

Things to Remember

  • Keep plastic containers out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Do not use glass or coffee containers.
  • Never put loose needles or syringes in the trash or blue recycling carts.
  • Never flush needles or syringes down the toilet.
  • It is critical to public health and safety that needles and syringes are disposed of properly and safely. Needle injuries to municipal workers on the job, or to the public, are easily preventable.

Where and How to Dispose of Sharps

For safe and proper disposal, residents may take their sealed and clearly labeled Sharps container to the Las Cruces Central Public Health Office (see address below) for safe and proper disposal. Residents may also place their sealed and clearly labeled Sharps container in the trash; however, proper disposal is preferred. Do not place this container in any recycling carts or dumpsters. View Las Cruces Central Public Health Office information.

Sharps must be in a sharps container or rigid, plastic container such as an empty laundry detergent bottle or bleach bottle. Seal with duct tape and label container "SHARPS BIOHAZARD". Sharps medical waste is not accepted for drop-off at SCSWA Transfer Station and Recycling Center. To view more information about safety flash please visit the Safety Flash page. For more information on alternative disposal locations throughout Doña Ana County, please visit the New Mexico Department of Health website.

Additional Medical Waste Disposal Programs and Services

Harm Reduction Program

The HARM Reduction Program works to reduce drug-related harm while enhancing individual, family and community wellness, primarily through the provision of linguistically appropriate and culturally competent services to injection drugs.

Harm Reduction Links

North American Syringe Exchange Network

NASEN is a national network of syringe exchange programs (SEPs), those who support them and the people they service. NASEN's purpose is to ensure that drug users have access to the quality disease prevention and healthcare services that other citizens of our society enjoy. Our goal is to reduce and eventually eliminate epidemic levels of the transmission of HIV, HCV and other blood-borne diseases among drug users, their partners, family, friends and others in their community.

Additional Links