Safe Disposal of Needles and Sharps

Why You Should Be Careful with Sharps

Improper disposal of used or unwanted “sharps” (needles, syringes, lancets and other sharps items) can cause a serious injury and pose health risks to the public and waste workers. Waste workers are exposed to potential needle stick injuries and potential infection when inappropriate containers break open inside garbage trucks or sharps become exposed when sent to recycling facilities. Housekeepers and janitors may also be injured when loose sharps poke through trash bags. Used needles can also cause painful infections and transmit serious diseases, such as HIV and hepatitis.

The Law

Beginning on September 1, 2008, State law made it illegal to dispose of home-generated sharps waste in the trash or recycling containers, and requires that all sharps waste be transported to a collection center in an approved bio-hazard sharps container.

The California Health and Safety Code defines "home-generated sharps waste" as hypodermic needles, pen needles, intravenous needles, lancets, and other devices that are used to penetrate the skin for the delivery of medications derived from a household, including a multifamily residence or household.

Residents can visit the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) website to find out if the pharmaceutical manufacturer has a free sharps container available. Senate Bill 486, passed in October 2009, required that by July 1, 2010:

“…all pharmaceutical manufacturers that sell or distribute a medication in California that is usually intended to be self-injected at home through the use of a hypodermic needle, pen needle, intravenous needle or any similar device, to 1) submit a plan describing their actions to support or provide for the safe collection and proper disposal of the waste devices, and 2) educate consumers about safe sharps management and collection opportunities.”

The CalRecycle website that lists the manufacturers who have turned in a plan is www.calrecycle.ca.gov/homehazwaste/sharps/reporting/default.htm

If residents need more containers they can ask the pharmacy where they get their medications. For further information about obtaining biohazard containers or mail-back programs (most of these companies charge a fee for the containers):

Mail-Back Services for a fee:

• GRP & Associates www.sharpsdisposal.com (800) 207-0976

• Republic Services www.republicsharps.com (855) 737-7871

• Sharps Compliance, Inc. www.sharpsinc.com (800) 772-5657

• Stericycle, Inc. https://store.stericycle.com (800) 355-8773

• WCM (Waste & Compliance Management, Inc.) www.wastewise.com (866) 436-9264

• Waste Management MedWaste Tracker www.wm.com/residential/medical-waste.jsp (866) 803-7561

• XMED Disposal, Inc. www.stericycle.com/xmed (866) 735-9709

We do not endorse any of these companies and do not intend this to be a complete list.

Drop Off Locations in West Contra Costa

San Pablo,  Pinole, and Richmond Police Departments along with the West County Wastewater District office are drop-off locations for needles, sharps, and lancets.  These convenient locations allow West Contra Costa County residents to properly dispose of sharps keep them out of the garbage.  The program is a collaborative effort between RecycleMore, West County Resource Recovery Inc., and the participating locations.

  • Hercules City Hall, 111 Civic Drive, Hercules; 24-Hour drop off bins are located outside of main entrance
  • San Pablo Police Station: 13880 San Pablo Avenue, San Pablo; Lobby hours: 7:30am - 6pm Mon - Thurs
  • Pinole Police Station: 880 Tennent Avenue, Pinole; Lobby hours: 8am - 5pm Mon - Fri
  • West County Wastewater District Office: 2910 Hilltop Drive, Richmond; Lobby hours: 8am - 5pm Mon - Fri, closed 12pm - 1pm
  • El Cerrito Recycling + Environmental Resource Center:  7501 Schmidt Lane, El Cerrito; 8:00am - 5pm Mon - Fri, 9am - 4:45pm Sat - Sun
  • Richmond Police Station 1701 Regatta Blvd. Richmond; 7am - 8pm Mon - Sun
  • Richmond Senior Center: 2525 MacDonald Avenue, Richmond; 8:30am - 5pm Mon - Fri, 8am - 11am Sat
  • Richmond Annex Senior Center: 5801 Huntington Avenue, Richmond; 24-hour drop off bin is located outside of main entrance
  • West County HHW Collection Facility: 101 Pittsburg Avenue, Richmond; (Thur, Fri, Sat. from 9am to 4pm, closed 12-12:30pm) 
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