Disposing Hypodermic Needles (Sharps)

Sharps are needles and lancets that you use at home to inject yourself, your child, or your pet with medicine. Needles that are not thrown away properly are dangerous because used needles sometimes injure innocent people.

Safe sharps disposal is important to: 

  • Provide an environmentally safe option for disposing of sharps.
  • Prevent injury to humans and animals.
  • Keep sharps out of household trash and recycling bins.
  • Prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
  • Remove used needles from circulation and prevent the sharing of needles.

It is important to remember that sharps are only a problem when they are not handled properly.

To help you properly dispose of your needles and lancets, make sure that you are disposing of your sharps the right way. Please follow these simple rules:

  • DO keep containers in areas that are child and animal proof.
  • DO use a container that is puncture-resistant and is not see-through.
  • DO place full, sealed containers in your trash bags with the rest of your household trash.
  • DON'T put sharps in soda cans, glass containers, or milk cartons.
  • DON'T put sharps containers in your recycling bin.
  • DON'T flush needles or lancets down the toilet. (Sharps that are flushed down the toilet may end up on our beaches and riverbanks.)

Home Generated Medical Waste Disposal Guide

The RI Resource Recovery Corporation, RI Department of Environmental Management and the RI Department of Health have created a guide for safely disposing home generated medical waste. Please click the document to the left to view or download the guide.

Disposal at an Eco-Depot event

As of July 1, 2014, sharps may be dropped off at any Eco-Depot collection event. They must be properly prepared and contained in order to be accepted. Please follow this procedure if bringing sharps to the Eco-Depot:

  • When making your appointment with the Eco-Depot, note on the online form that you will be bringing sharps, or if calling in for the appointment, alert the customer service that you will have sharps with you.
  • For drop-off, Sharps must be contained in rigid plastic containers.
  • Upon arrival please notify an attendant that you are in possession of sharps.
  • Residents will personally place the container in either the supplied bio box or on a staging cart.

Disposal by Mail

You may also dispose your needles by mail. An internet search on the phrase "sharps disposal by mail" will direct you to multiple companies offering this service.  

Disposal in MA

Massachusetts also currently has some special drop-off containers available.  To find a container that might be convenient for you visit click here.