Safe Medication and Syringe Disposal

Most medications can be disposed of according to the instructions detailed below in the How to Dispose of Prescription Medicines and OTC Products.
How to Dispose of Prescription Medicines & Over-The-Counter (OTC) Products 

Safe Syringe Disposal

Over 8 million people in the United States need to use syringes for their medications. That's a lot of syringes that go into the trash and could harm family members, garbage collection workers and pets if improperlydisposed.

There are several methods that can be used to safely discard syringes and lancets. Some are more costly than others, but all methods listed here are acceptable. Although other methods may be preferred, you can dispose of your syringes in the household trash if you do the following:

  • Place syringe in a puncture-proof, hard plastic container with a screw-on cap, like a bleach or detergent bottle.
  • Seal the container with the original lid and wrap with duct tape.
  • Place the tightly sealed container in a bag and put it in your trash. DO NOT PUT THE CONTAINER IN YOUR RECYCLING BIN! (Trash in Connecticut is burned so by placing the container in the trash, the syringes will be destroyed by incineration. Placing the container in a recycle bin can cause injury to the workers who sort and process these items.)

Alternate Methods that Increase Safety

  • Buy syringes that after they are used, the needle tip is retracted into the syringe itself. After use they can safely be thrown into the household trash containers unlike traditional syringes which could potentially stick a family member or garbage worker. These are called "self-shielding" syringes and are only a few cents more than the traditional syringes.  
  • Buy a device that cuts off the needle tip. The needle tip is safely held inside the device and the syringe can then be thrown away with the household trash. Most devices hold up to 1,500 needle tips. Since it cannot be opened, once the device is full, it too can go into the household trash container.

    Many pharmacies sell such devices, however they may only be available on line. Apex Pharmacy in Hamden does carry them in the store. Check with your local pharmacy to see if they have them in stock. This is a pretty inexpensive way to safely dispose of the needles.


  • Participate in a mail return program for your sharps containers. Using the postage-paid container, mail back your full sharps container and receive a certificate of destruction in the mail. This is your proof that your sharps container was disposed of properly and safely. 

    These companies offer mail return programs: Becton Dickinson 201-847-6800 Sharps Compliance Inc 800-772-5657 Steri.Safe Sharps Mailback Program 800-355-8773  

Unsafe Ways to Dispose of Needles

  • Throwing syringes directly into the household trash without cutting off needle or placing needle and syringe in a hard plastic container properly sealed.
  •  Placing too many in a plastic container like a bleach bottle or in a metal container like a coffee can.  
  • Flushing them down the toilet.  
  • Placing them in your recycling bin.

For information on disposal of medical supplies, such as thermometers or IV equipment, go to: Disposing of Prescription Medicines and Over-the-Counter (OTC) Products