Health Department

Disposing of Needles and Syringes

Guidelines for disposing of needles and syringes

Every year, people are injured by contact from needles and lancets which are improperly discarded in household trash. Waste handlers are at the highest risk; however puncture wounds may also injure others including children and pets.

Unfortunately, needles and syringes can also be found in other areas such as a playground or your own yard because someone disposed of them incorrectly. Proper storage and disposal of sharps will protect members of your household and the general public from accidental injury, as well as prevent environmental pollution.

The Environmental Protection Agency has a few recommendations but they allow states to develop their own policies. Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services suggests the following:


Obtain a puncture-resistant plastic or metal container such as an empty detergent or bleach container with a screw-on or tightly secured lid, or an empty coffee can with its lid.

• Do not use clear plastic or glass containers.

• Many local pharmacies sell sharps containers for home use.

• Place used lancets, needles, sharps and syringes in container immediately after use.

• Dispose of syringes as one unit.

• Do not attempt to remove, bend, break or recap the needle.


• Store out of reach of children.

• Tightly seal the container when 3/4 full.

• When you are using a coffee can, reinforce the lid with heavy duct or electrical tape. You should completely cover the lid with tape to prevent punctures.

Other Helpful Hints:

Do not place the container containing sharps with your recyclable waste.

Do not place these containers where they may fall and spill open.

Do not dispose of needles or syringes in the toilet.

Do not dispose of needles or syringes in the trash without putting them in a container.

If you should come across needles outside, please use caution when handling and place in a container as described above. Make sure that the container is sealed and the cap is covered with duct tape. Place in your trash can along with household trash. Remember that containers that hold needles or other sharps should never be placed in recycled trash. As always, you can call the Independence Health Department at 816-325-7185 with questions or concerns. We are committed to "Building a Healthier Independence."