It’s illegal to dispose of home-generated sharps in the garbage. This includes needles, syringes and lancets used for the care of people and animals.
Beginning on September 1, 2008, State law (Section 118286) of the California Health and Safety Code) made it illegal to dispose of home-generated sharps waste in the trash or recycling containers. The law also requires that all sharps waste be transported to a collection center in an approved sharps container. When thrown in the trash, sharps can injure sanitation workers.
Sharps include hypodermic needles, pen needles, intravenous needles, lancets, and other devices that are used to penetrate the skin for the delivery of medications used in the care of people and animals. Once the syringe is no longer with the needle and no longer capable of piercing the skin, it can be disposed in the garbage assuming it’s home-generated waste. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently only lists the "Disintegrator" as a needle destruction device approved for use by self-injectors. Do not attempt to remove, bend, break or recap the needle. Also, note that empty medication vials can be disposed in the garbage.
Don't put sharps in soda cans, milk cartons, glass bottles or in any containers that are not puncture resistant. Coffee cans are not recommended because the plastic lids come off easily and may leak.
Syringes/needles must be in an FDA-approved sharps container.
The only legal way to transport used sharps is in an FDA-approved sharps container.
The container must be labeled "Sharps."
Don't mix sharps with any other waste, including discarded medications or other pharmaceuticals.
1. Mail back disposal options: for residents
Use FDA-approved mail-back and safe syringe disposal containers. The following companies offer pre-paid return service programs. In addition, most pharmacies sell FDA-approved mail-back and safe syringe disposal containers.
2. Drop-off syringes/needles in an FDA-approved container at the following locations: for residents
Some offer syringe collection and disposal on-site for customers purchasing FDA-approved containers.
3. Dispose of sharps through the Agency's Hazardous Waste programs: for residents
Household Hazardous Waste Facility
Household Hazardous Waste Collection Events
Household Hazardous Waste Rover Pickup Service
Resources for sharps:
California Department of Public Health
California Department of Public Health List of Registered Medical Waste Transporters
California Products Stewardship Council
California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle)
Hours listed on this page may change without notice.