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Missing the Point:
How to Properly Dispose of Your Medical Sharps

OUCH! Imagine the unpleasant surprise of picking up the trash and getting jabbed by a hidden needle buried somewhere in the garbage bag's mingled contents. Not a pleasant prospect. And, under the rules of proper disposal, an accident which need not happen. Used needles and syringes are considered biomedical waste and must be treated with caution. Institutions like hospitals and blood clinics must follow strict guidelines when they discard their needles or sharps. However, even individuals should take precautions when disposing of their own used syringes, lancets, or even razor blades. Anything which may have come into contact with human body fluids like blood should be treated with care. The risk is often not to you, but to some other unsuspecting person who has to handle your garbage. The recommended method to dispose of waste sharps at home is as follows:
  1. Use a container that is leak and puncture proof with a twist off cap. Old bleach bottles or peanut butter jars are good choices.
  2. After dropping in your used syringes, tightly cap the bottle and LABEL it with appropriate wording like: WASTE SHARPS.
  3. If you are on the Waste Watch system, throw this container in your BLACK CART. If not on the Waste Watch system, just throw your labelled sharps bottle in the regular trash or take them to the Trigen Energy from Waste Plant (EFW) in Charlottetown for incineration. Some pharmacies on the Island sell special disposal containers to clients like diabetics which are designed to hold used needles. Ask your drug store for details.
All institutions must have their sharps incinerated. Often this is done at Charlottetown's EFW plant, but some send their material to Moncton for burning. In these cases, where the volumes being handled are large, labels like the one shown here are affixed to the transport containers. This symbol is the international sign for biomedical waste and indicates that the material inside is potentially infectious.

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