The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently launched a website on the safe disposal of medical sharps after home use intended for patients and caregivers. The website illustrates the public health risks of medical sharps and offers recommendations for safe home disposal. According to the press release, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that more than 3 billion needles and other sharps are used in homes in the United States each year. The Agency of Natural Resources has also created a webpage specifically to address the proper guidelines for disposing of sharps.

Residents with medical wastes should take the following precautions:

Sharps should be placed in a hard plastic, opaque container, such as a detergent bottle. Sharps are NOT classified as a hazardous waste, but special precautions should be taken to ensure safe handling. See “Sharps” above
Containers may be placed in the regular household trash

All other medical waste, such as bandages, dressings, etc., should be placed in a separate container and disposed of in the regular household trash.
Refer to the Vermont Department of Health Guide on Safe Needle Disposal in Vermont which includes a demo video, a toolkit for communities, case studies, and more.

“Safe Needle Disposal: What should I do?” Decision Tree (for residents and health care professionals)

Sample “Do Not Recycle” label to tape to disposal containers. Printing on colored paper makes the label more eye-catching.  Safe disposal of sharps information.

What To Do With A Found Needle

Businesses and Institutions
Businesses and institutions with medical waste need to have additional procedures. Waste generated in the medical industry consists of a wide variety of materials. Although a vast majority is considered regular solid waste, a small percentage of the waste requires special handling and treatment prior to disposal in order to protect public health, safety, and the environment. For more information on regulated medical waste, visit the Agency of Natural Resources review Vermont’s Regulated Medical Waste Procedure.

Businesses and institutions that need assistance may the Agency of Natural Resources at 802-828-1138.