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The Florida Department of Health works to protect, promote, and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county, and community efforts.

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Home Management of Sharps

Contact the Biomedical Waste Program

*Note: This page contains materials in the Portable Document Format (PDF).  The free Adobe Reader may be required to view these files.

To minimize risks from improper disposal of home-generated biomedical waste, e.g., needles, syringes with needles, diagnostic lancets, etc., many Florida counties have implemented programs that provide accessible and affordable methods to dispose of this type of waste in a safe manner. These programs provide strategically located sites where residents can drop off a container filled with needles and at many sites receive a new container at minimal or no cost.

If your county health department or local county government does not have this type of program, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has several possible options for safe needle disposal.  A United States Post Office list also provides approved biomedical waste mail-in services. Needles, syringes with needles, diagnostic lancets, etc., are placed into containers provided by these services and mailed to a facility for treatment.

As a last resort, if the options above are not feasible, the Florida Department of Health and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection recommend individuals follow the guidelines below.

Needle Disposal

If you use this last-resort option, make sure to check first with your local garbage company and your local landfill to make sure these disposal procedures are allowed in your county. If your county allows this last-resort option, place needles, syringes with needles, lancets, and other sharp objects into a hard-plastic or metal container with a screw-on top or other tightly fitting lid (i.e., an empty liquid-detergent bottle or paint can). Before the container is full all the way to the top, put on the top or lid and tape it on with heavy-duty tape. Put the container in the center of your trash when you throw it out. Do not put needles and other sharp objects in any container you plan to recycle. Do not use clear-plastic or glass containers. Do not throw loose or unprotected needles into your garbage. These guidelines are available in an English (219 KB pdf) brochure.

Other Medical Waste Disposal

Put soiled bandages, disposable sheets, medical gloves, and other contaminated non-sharp materials into a black or brown plastic bag.  Securely tie or tape up the top of the bag. Place the bag in the center of your garbage when you throw it out. These guideline are available in an English (454 KB pdf) brochure.