Safe Disposal of Medical Sharps

The improper disposal of medical sharps may present serious safety and public health risks, especially to solid waste and recycling workers. Any person who is accidentally stuck should undergo medical testing due to concerns about exposure to harmful or deadly diseases such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV. Under Kansas law, if you use medical sharps such as needles, syringes, and lancets at home or in certain other settings, you may dispose of such items with other trash but only in accordance with the precautions provided on this page.

These disposal guidelines apply to medical sharps generated at the following types of community locations (not sharps generated by regulated health care providers):

  • Churches
  • Households
  • Offices
  • Schools
  • Small Businesses

Don't Get Stuck With Sharps!

General Guidelines

  • Do not throw loose needles in the trash.
  • Do not flush any medical sharps down the toilet.
  • Do not mix any medical sharps with recyclable material.

Facts & Details

  • In Kansas, it is currently legal to place sharps in a sealed puncture-resistant bottle that is disposed of in household trash or municipal solid waste generated at any location that is not a regulated health care provider (see list above).
  • Special rigid sharps containers can be purchased from pharmacies and other medical supply companies that are suitable for disposal with other trash.
  • Prior to placing any sharps container in the trash, write "Do Not Recycle - Sharps" on the container.
  • Always use heavy-duty tape (example: Duct tape) to secure lids to the containers.
  • Do not overstuff containers with sharps. Fill to approximately 2/3 full.
  • Sharps disposal devices such as needle cutting and incineration devices are available.


Examples of containers that may be used for medical sharps:Example of good sharps containers

  • Bleach
  • Laundry soap
  • Liquid soap
  • Metal container with screw-on lid
  • Special purchased sharps container

Examples of containers that should not be used:

  • 2-liter beverage container
  • Aluminum cansExamples of bad sharps containers
  • Coffee cans with snap-on lids
  • Glass jars
  • Plastic bags
  • Plastic milk jugs

Medical sharps should never be mixed with recyclable materials!! 

  • Including source-separated material and single-stream material

No sharps in the recycling bin

Needle Cutter

A needle cutter automatically stores the cut needles and is useful when a disposal container is not available.

Sharps needle cutter

Needle Incinerator

A needle incinerator for non-medical facility use destroys needles by high heat and reduces them to BB-size balls.

Sharps needle incinerator

Alternative Disposal Options

  • Some county-operated household hazardous waste facilities accept sharps from their residents. Currently, Leavenworth, Seward, and Shawnee counties provide this service. Check with your local HHW to determine if they will accept sharps.
  • Some county health departments accept sharps from residents, schools, small businesses, etc. Check locally to determine the availability of such services.
  • Local pharmacies, hospitals, and other medical facilities do not generally allow public drop-off of sharps for disposal.

The disposal of loose sharps in the trash or with recyclables puts family members, trash haulers, recyclers, and landfill employees in danger of infection and other injuries. Do your part to keep them safe.

Note: These guidelines are applicable to sharps generated in some agricultural settings that may not be subject to state medical waste regulations.

For more information contact Jeff Walker.