Sharps are items capable of puncturing, piercing, cutting, or abrading the skin. Sharps are also handled according to the same categories that apply to biohazardous medical waste: Category 1 waste is known, assumed, or suspected of being infectious to humans, plants, or animals and could cause harm if released to the environment, Category 2 waste has the appearance of biohazardous/medical waste, but is not contaminated with regulated materials, Category 3 wastes are contaminated with hazardous chemicals or radioactive material. The below requirements apply to all three categories. For detailed information on handling category 1 or 3 sharps (contaminated sharps), see Biohazardous and Sharps Waste Management Manual
Sharps must be disposed in an appropriate sharps container as soon as possible after use. Place waste in a rigid, puncture-resistant, leak-proof (on sides and bottom), labeled waste container that has a secure lid with an alternate smaller opening appropriate to the type and size of waste.
- Place sharps in regular trash bags or waste cans
- Reach into a sharps waste container (or other waste receptacles).
- Place liquids, such as full syringes, in the sharps waste container.
- Fill the container beyond the “fill” line where applicable (approved medical waste containers have a fill line). Containers must not be over ¾ full or at full capacity such that: 1) lids do not fit securely, 2) materials poke out from the opening, or 3) the capacity presents a puncture or contamination risk to individuals handling the container.
- Reuse sharps waste containers
- Place sharps in food containers or items resembling containers of food
- Place sharps in waste containers designed for broken glass
When ready for container disposal, transport, or treatment, ensure the lid is properly secured. Follow the procedures for proper disposal management based on the nature of the sharps waste category.
Category 2 Sharps (Non-biohazardous, Uncontaminated)
Use a container that is puncture-resistant and leak-proof. Do not use red containers. Deface any existing container markings. Clear or white regular medical sharps containers may be used as long as biohazardous markings are removed or defaced. Some re-purposed plastic containers may be used to collect and store sharps that are not contaminated and were not generated in a clinic or laboratory that generates and/or handles biohazardous or other potentially infectious materials (which must be handled only as Category 1 sharps).
To use containers other than those specifically manufactured and/or sold for sharps waste, the container must be a rigid, undamaged, and be puncture resistant. Sturdy liquid laundry detergent containers are acceptable. As a guide, containers made of polypropelene (PP) or high-density polyethylene (HDPE) displaying the recycling designations numbers of 5 or 2, respectively, are generally suitable.
Any original product labeling must be completely defaced or covered with proper secondary label. These re-purposed containers are acceptable, but not recommended due to the tendency for this to be mistaken for empty reusable/recyclable materials. If this type of container is used, all original product marking should be removed and replaced with appropriate precautionary labeling to include:
- Non-Biohazardous or Non-Medical
- Do not recycle