Household SHARPS Program


Beginning September 1, 2008, California law prohibits the disposal of home-generated sharps in the trash or recycling containers, and requires that all sharps waste be transported to a collection center in an approved container.

What are home-generated sharps?

Sharps are defined as hypodermic needles, syringes, lancets, and any other medical devices used for self-injection or blood test, which may have a sharp tip or end.

What is an approved sharps container?

According to State law, approved sharps containers are rigid, leak free, puncture resistant, and sealed. Example of acceptable containers include: coffee cans with lids, liquid detergent bottles with lids, plastic soda bottles with lids, plastic milk or juice containers with lids, and any containers designated for sharps disposal.

What are some problems associated with improper disposal of sharps?

If sharps are not disposed of properly, they pose a very serious threat as a puncture hazard, and also a vector to transmit diseases such as hepatitis, HIV, AIDS, and tetanus. Sharps should not be thrown in the trash, placed in a recycling container, or flushed down the toilet. Used sharps left loose among waste can hurt sanitation workers during collection rounds, at sorting and recycling facilities, and at landfills. Children, adults, and even pets are also at risk for needle-stick injuries when sharps are disposed improperly at home or in a public setting.

How does one dispose of their sharps properly?

When purchasing needles or syringes from your local pharmacy, purchase mail-in storage containers or purchase an approved medical waste container (they are bright red, and have the large “biohazard” symbol displayed). If you cannot purchase a container, you may make a homemade sharps container (see the above question “What is an approved sharps container?”)

Approved containers may be transported to one of the following locations:

  • A home-generated sharps consolidation point
  • A medical facility
  • Through a medical waste mail-back program
  • A household hazardous waste collection facility

Sharp flyers are available in English and Spanish

For more information, contact the Stanislaus County Department of Environmental Resources at 209-525-6700.