In a recent edition of the Burlington Free Press, reporter Lynn Monty interviewed several people who had found used syringes while picking up trash in their communities on Green-Up Day. Syringes may be used to administer a number of substances, drugs included; however, they are also used by people with diabetes to administer insulin. A used syringe is a hazardous waste, which no one wants to find littering the roadside.
This article presents a great opportunity to remind people with diabetes about the guidelines for safe disposal of syringes and other medical sharps, which include insulin pen needles and lancets used for blood glucose monitoring.
For safe disposal of medical sharps, remember to:
- Drop used syringes or sharps in an empty plastic bottle or container such as a bleach, laundry detergent or soda bottle, all of which have a screw type cap, then recap the bottle for safe storage.
- Place a label on the bottle with the following warning: “DO NOT RECYCLE.” This can be done using preprinted labels that may be obtained by contacting your waste disposal company. You can also make your own label using a permanent marker and tape it on the bottle.
- When the container is ¾ full, be sure the cap is screwed on tightly, then securely cover the cap with a heavy tape such as duct tape and discard in your household trash. Do not put the container in your recycling bin.
Please remember is unsafe to:
- Throw syringes or sharps directly in the trash;
- Break needles off from a syringe;
- Flush syringes or sharps down the toilet or burn in a rubbish pile; and
- Recycle a sharps container.
For more information on safe disposal of syringes and other medical sharps, please contact:
Chittenden Solid Waste District at www.cswd.net or (802) 872-8111
The Vermont Department of Health at http://healthvermont.gov/enviro/documents/sharps_syringe_disposal.pdf
Linda Tilton, MS, RD, CDE, is a Clinical Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator at The University of Vermont Medical Center. In 2013, The UVM Medical Center earned national certification in diabetes education. Learn more about The UVM Medical Center’s Endocrinology, Metabolism and Nutrition practice. Linda is also the coordinating board chair for the Vermont Association of Diabetes Educators.