Posted on 26-June-2019   by Imogen Jones

Advice: How to dispose of a full sharps container

Advice sharps disposal - sharps and equipment

One of the most frequently asked questions of our Customer Service Team is about how to dispose of full sharps containers. While this is not our area of expertise, we have gathered together some resources and advice which may help people understand the rules and guidance.

Arrangements for disposing of full sharps bins vary from area to area. The latest official guidance from the NHS (June 2019) states that if you use needles to inject medication, it’s your responsibility to dispose of them safely. Read on for more information.

Staying safe

Clinical waste like syringes and needles should never be disposed in the same way as general commercial or residential waste or recycling. Apart from the obvious risks that this type of waste poses to public health, clinical waste presents a significant hazard to staff handling waste and recyclable materials. It requires specialist containment and collection.

Disposing of your full sharps bin

If you have a medical condition, such as diabetes, and use needles to self-medicate at home, the NHS guidance states that your local council is responsible for collecting your full sharps bin. Local councils can charge for this service, but most don’t.

You can find out more from your local council’s website. GOV.UK has a dedicated webpage which enables you to search for your local council by postcode which then links directly to your local council’s domestic clinical waste information pages (if they have them): (available in England and Wales only).

Local arrangements vary

However, in some areas, people are able to return sharps boxes to GP practices, health centres, or local pharmacies, and/or these places run free collection services. Some councils advise that once the sharps receptacle is filled to the “fill line” it should be sealed by the householder and taken back to either the GP surgery or to the local pharmacy for disposal.

If you are housebound and unable to visit any of the locations due to disability, medical reason and a family member, friend or carer is unable to help, some councils will collect your used sharps from your home on a quarterly basis. If this applies to you, you may need a letter from your GP confirming this so that you can register for a household collection. Again, this is not consistent across all local authorities.

This is why it’s important to check what arrangements are in place where you live as soon as possible and speak to your local council, GP or healthcare professional if these arrangements are unclear.

If you have any other tips or useful sources of information on this issue, we’d love to hear from you. Telephone: 01865 371841 or email:

Imogen is the Product Manager for our SHARPSGUARD® range, and our Marketing Manager for the UK & Ireland.