Dear Captain CurbySM:
I am diabetic and have a lot of used needles. How do I get rid of them? Should I put them in my recycling cart?
Thanks for asking.
Your needles, like other medical equipment that can puncture or cut skin, such as lancets, are considered sharps. There are no regulations preventing you from throwing these items away, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take precautions to make sure it is done safely. (This applies to individuals for personal use, not to businesses.)
If not packaged correctly, sharps can be harmful to trash and recycling workers. First of all, because they’re, well, sharp. Also, used sharps can transmit infection, such as HIV and hepatitis. When placed loose in your trash or recycling, these items can easily cause a needle stick to anyone handling your trash or recycling.
Keep the recycling stream clean by keeping sharps out of your recycling container (cart, tub or blue bag). At this time, there are no programs available for household sharps recycling, so please do not try to recycle them.
There are safe ways to dispose of your sharps, however. Check out these options:
Check with your township or municipality. Many communities take sharps as part of their household hazardous waste collection. Call ahead or check their website for hours, requirements and preparation instructions. You can find a list of these programs on the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s website at http://www.michigan.gov/documents/deq/whm-stsw-sharps-collection-list_196524_7.pdf.
Next Best Option
You can also drop off your sharps at Granger’s Disposal Center of Lansing. We ask that you place your sharps in one of the following containers before bringing them to our facility:
- Commercially available rigid plastic sharps container
- Empty plastic laundry detergent bottle with lid taped shut
- Empty plastic bleach bottle with lid taped shut
You’ll need to come during the Disposal Center’s regular business hours and check in at the window for instructions on where to place your sharps. Please don’t bring your sharps to any of our Granger offices.
Disposing of your sharps with your regular trash collection isn’t ideal, but we do allow it. Please package your sharps in one of the containers listed above (under Next Best Option) to help keep our workers safe.
Captain CurbySM is the official mascot of Granger. With more than 30 years of experience in the waste industry, Curby’s passion and knowledge for waste and recycling is truly special. In his free time, Curby enjoys being involved in the community and inspiring others to be faithful stewards of the environment.
Email Curby at email@example.com.
Have a question for Captain Curby? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to put Dear Captain Curby in the subject line.
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