Background

Inappropriate disposal of community sharps first became a significant issue for a number of local councils in NSW in the mid 1990s, when the presence of needles and syringes in kerbside recycling services raised specific occupational health and safety (OHS) concerns.

The NSW Department of Local Government issued a Circular to Councils, No. 96/47: Management and Disposal of Household Medical Waste. The circular examined the role and responsibilities of local councils for the management of household medical waste, and recommended that each local council develop appropriate management and disposal strategies.

While household medical waste can include items such as drained peritoneal dialysis fluid bags and tubing, or similar equipment, these materials are not included in the management focus of these Guidelines.

This type of soft plastic waste can be bulky and may quickly fill or obstruct community sharps disposal facilities. It may also generate unpleasant odours if not collected frequently. Unlike community sharps, which can cause a penetrating injury, this type of waste is generally considered suitable for disposal to domestic waste (not recycling) services.

NSW Ministry of Health logo