Just throw it away?

Picture of a BD brand Sharps containerIt has taken me many years, but it finally happened.  I completely filled up my home sharps container with insulin pump cartridge fill needles.  Now what the heck do I do with it?

It has honestly been SO LONG since I’ve had to deal with disposing of a sharps container that I don’t remember what I have done in the past.  I don’t mean way back when I would break the needle off the syringe, stuff it into the plunger chamber with the plunger, then drop the syringe into an old milk jug or laundry detergent bottle (I think mom used to then take those to the hospital where she worked?).  I mean the last time I filled up an actual sharps container.

These insulin pump cartridge fill needles are so small that it has, very literally, taken a number of years to fill up the container.  It’s much different than the space taken up by syringes, pen needles, or infusion set needles.  They (the fill needles) are small and skinny, so you can really get a whole bunch of them in there before it fills up.

Trying to be a responsible needle user, I wanted to make sure I was disposing of this thing properly.  I called the company that handles my residential trash. I got the run-around for a bit and finally ended up at the toll-free number for a company that does mail return, but only for their brand of container.  I explained that I did not have their brand, and was directed to my local public health department.

I placed a few calls and left a few messages trying to get to the right people for the city I live in.  It was terribly hard and frustrating and resulted in nobody calling me back.  I kept thinking that “they” (whoever that is) sure are making it hard to properly dispose of these, and that if it was too much more work I would run out of responsible motivation and just toss the damn thing in the garbage!

With some more legwork and phone calls and waiting, I finally got a call back from someone.  Do you know what she said?

Just throw it in the garbage.

Can you believe that?!  Ha!!

Apparently these home sharps containers are designed such that they are completely safe to all parties involved to just go into your regular residential trash container.  They are sealed, puncture “resistant” , and marked appropriately so that the garbage handlers will know what to do with it and get it to an incinerator.

I really thought it would be more involved than that.  And looking at the container again, the marking and description is literally just a sticker – that can’t possibly hold up when mixed up with all sorts of household trash…

I don’t know – something just does not seem right with that answer.

Anyone out there know what is right?  How do you deal with your used sharps?

I do know that it has been very difficult for me to get information on what to do — and if it is this hard to do the right thing, many people will do the wrong thing.

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Scott K. Johnson

Patient voice, speaker, writer, advocate. Living life with diabetes and telling my story. Patient Success Manager, USA for mySugr (All opinions expressed are my own and do not necessarily represent the position of my employer).

Diagnosed in April of 1980, I recognize the incredible mental struggle of living with diabetes. Read more…