Used household needles, lancets and syringes (collectively called sharps) that are not properly managed can injure or spread disease to family members, waste handlers and the public. Households can properly manage their sharps by safely storing or immediately destroying them, then ensuring proper disposal.

1.  Storing used sharps safely
~Do NOT store sharps in glass bottles, aluminum cans, coffee cans, milk jugs or plastic bottles.
~You can purchase a sharps container (see left column) or ask your health care provider or pharmacy if they can give you one.
~If you plan to dispose of your sharps through a mail-back service, choose a service first and check their instructions.
~Place needles in point-first and don't fill more than half-full.

2. Immediately destroying sharps at home
~Needle cutter or clippers: These devices remove the needle from syringes and store them in the cutters case. They are often much cheaper than needle melters or grinders and can fit in a pocket.
The plastic part of the clipped syringe may be disposed in the trash (not in the recycling!). Once the cutter is full, it should be disposed of in an approved sharps container or via a mail-back service.
~Needle grinder or melter: Once the needle or lancet is destroyed, the remaining syringe and melted metal can be safely disposed of in the garbage (not the recycling container!).

3. Disposing of household sharps
~Household sharps collection sites: 
In Minnesota, it is up to each pharmacy, healthcare facility, city and county to decide whether they want to collect household sharps from citizens. Many counties offer free or low-cost household sharps collection sites. (Please see left column for options in Redwood and/or Renville County). Most healthcare facilities do not accept household sharps from patients, however, a few pharmacies in Minnesota do.

  • Do not bring household sharps to a medication disposal box.
  • Dispose of prefilled syringes, such as EpiPenTM or NarcanTM injectors, with your household sharps.
  • If your sharps container does not close properly (do NOT overfill), use strong tape to secure the lid or openings.

~Mail-back programs: You may purchase pre-paid household sharps mailers to send your sharps to a disposal facility. Check with your health care provider or pharmacist or search online for available services.

NEVER place loose sharps into your MSW* (garbage) or recycling.
NEVER put sharps containers into your MSW or recycling container.

Some garbage and most recyclables are hand sorted. Loose sharps containers in these containers can endanger employees.

*Municipal Solid Waste