Use a sharps container to dispose of lancets safely

When you're testing your blood sugar several times a day, those little lancets certainly add up. If you're taking insulin, those syringes or insulin pen needles can take over your bathroom counter with surprising speed. Rather than drop them all in the trash, protect yourself and others with proper disposal in a sharps container.

Why you need a sharps container

A sharps container is a thick plastic container designed as a safe place to dispose of lancets, needles and other sharp objects. Disposing of these objects in the proper container can help prevent accidental injury or contamination.

You can purchase a basic sharps container at your local pharmacy or medical supply store for less than ten dollars. More elaborate sharps containers, such as those that break the needle or otherwise render it unusable, might cost a bit more. Locking sharps containers are also available for peace of mind if you have small children in your home.

How to make your own sharps container

Making your own sharps container is a very simple process. Choose a container made of heavy plastic, such as a milk jug, detergent bottle or bleach bottle. Avoid glass or materials that are easily crushed, like styrofoam or light plastic. A small opening with a tight lid is best. Mark the container very clearly as a 'sharps' container and put it in a place where you will remember to use it often.

Dispose of lancets, syringes and the like in the container, putting the lid on tightly after each deposit. When the container is full, simply dispose of it properly and start a new one.

What to do with the full sharps container

When the sharps container is full, the Environmental Protection Agency offers a few tips on what to do with it.

  1. Tape the sharps container shut. Use plenty of heavy duty tape for this. Then toss it in the regular trash collection. Do not put it in the recycle bin.
  2. Take the container to a community center, hospital or other facility that accepts sharps for disposal. If you're not sure where to take sharps in your community, ask your local health department.
  3. Mail-back programs allow you to collect your sharps in a special container, then seal it and mail it to a disposal company when it's full. There might be a fee associated with this.
  4. A needle exchange program can accept your used needles and exchange them with new ones.

Whatever method you choose to dispose of lancets, syringes and the like, never simply throw them in the garbage. Proper disposal can keep you, your family and your trash company free from worry.

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