Medication & Home Health Care Disposal

Residents can help prevent injury, illness and pollution by following some simple steps when disposing of the sharp objects and contaminated materials used in administering home health care.

Special Containers

You should place needles, syringes, lancets, and other sharp objects in a hard-plastic or metal container with a screw-on or tightly secured lid. Many containers found in the household will do, or you may purchase containers specifically designed for the disposal of medical waste sharps.

Using & Discarding a Container

  • Before discarding a container, be sure to reinforce the lid with heavy-duty tape.
  • Clearly mark any container used to dispose of sharps or medical items with "Not For Recycling."
  • Do not put sharp objects in any container you plan to recycle or return to a store.
  • Do not use glass or clear plastic containers.
  • Make sure that you keep all containers with sharp objects out of reach of children and pets.

Soiled Items

We also recommend that soiled bandages, disposable sheets, and medical gloves be placed in securely-fashioned plastic bags before you put them in the garbage can with your other trash.

Recycling Medical Materials

EPA promotes all recycling activities, and therefore encourages you to discard medical waste sharps in sturdy, non-recyclable containers, when possible. If a recyclable container is used to dispose of medical waste sharps, make sure that you don’t mix the container with other materials to be recycled. Since the sharps impair a container’s recyclability, a container holding your medical waste sharps properly belongs with regular household trash. You may even want to label the container “Not For Recycling.” These steps go a long way toward protecting workers and others from possible injury (although disposing of recyclable containers removes them from the recycling stream, the expected impact is minimal).

More Information

For additional copies of these disposal tips, call the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Hotline Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time at 1-800-424-9346. For hearing impaired, call TDD 1-800-553-7672.