Each year 8 million people across the country use more than 3 billion needles, syringes, and lancets, also called "sharps", to manage medical conditions at home. Sharps disposal is not typically regulated, and self-injectors do not always know the safest disposal methods.  This situation could lead to haphazard disposal habits and increased community exposure to sharps. Those at the greatest risk of being stuck by used sharps include sanitation and sewage treatment workers. 

The issue with RESIDENTIAL disposal of household generated “sharps” is complicated. Tennessee is one of a few states with no regulations regarding household generated “sharps” disposal; therefore, it reverts to local community guidelines. Commercial disposal is highly regulated by State Law. 

To protect our community and the environment, Collierville Best Practices Guidelines (CBPG) recommends that citizens with household generated “sharps” to contact a biohazard waste disposal company and participate in their “Mail-Back Program”.  Mail-back programs: Used sharps are placed in special containers, which are mailed (in accordance with U.S. Postal Service requirements) to a collection site for proper disposal. Sharps users place their used sharps in special containers and return the container by mail to a collection site for proper disposal. This service requires a fee, which vary depending on the size of the container. As an example a typical gallon milk container size would cost approximately $50.

On the other hand, a legal but less safe method is to put used sharps (needle-point first) in a household container such as a laundry detergent bottle, bleach bottle or other opaque sturdy plastic container with a screw-top lid, sealed with duct-tape and write “do not recycle” on the outside. When that container is half-full, citizens should place it in their regular garbage cart (not the recycling cart). However, this is highly discouraged because of the injury and health risks it places on sanitation workers and equipment operators.

If citizens have their sharps in a “RED” sharps container, these containers are not permitted in the regular garbage carts because they are marked “Bio-hazardous Material”. Bio-hazardous material are not allowed in household garbage carts. In this case, it’s the actual container that is not permitted, not the sharps themselves.  You might hear or read about alternative methods of disposal in Collierville, but these are typically found unreliable and untrue.   

Not True:

  • local pharmacies such as Wal-Mart, Wal-Greens for disposal – Not True
  • local hospitals such as Baptist Collierville for disposal – Not True
  • local ambulance service such as Rural Metro for disposal – Not True
  • Shelby County Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility – Not True
  • local doctor's offices for disposal – Not True
  • local fire department for disposal - Not True
  • subscribe to a “free” mail-back service – Not True

Due to the hazards that unsafe disposal practices present, many states and municipalities are choosing to offer safe, convenient disposal options to sharps users (Source: www.epa.gov).


Collierville Fire Department:
 1251 Peterson Lake Road, Collierville, TN 38017 | (901) 457-2400 | Emergency: 9-1-1

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