Sharps containers

Generators of community sharps should place them into an appropriate container prior to disposal to a community sharps disposal facility (unless placed in single syringe disposal units).

The Australian Standard applying to personal use containers is AS 4939–2001: Non-reusable personal use containers for the collection and disposal of hypodermic needles and syringes.

This standard only applies to containers holding up to ten 1ml syringes and needles. Use of a disposal container that conforms to AS 4939-2001 or AS 4031 1992: Non-reusable containers for the collection of sharp medical items used in health care areas should be the recommended practice for generators of community sharps. This is important to protect the health and safety of people who may come into contact with containers of used sharps, including exposure in the workplace.

NSW Needle and Syringe Program outlets provide a disposal container on every occasion when clean syringes are distributed. However, use of AS sharps containers is not stipulated by NSW environment legislation for the storage and disposal of community sharps and the cost of purchasing these containers may be a significant disincentive to many people who self-inject to treat a medical condition. If a container other than an AS sharps container is used to store and dispose of community sharps it should be a puncture resistant plastic container with a screw top.

All containers of community sharps should be disposed of only to a community sharps disposal facility and not into council waste or recycling services. Information developed to promote the safe disposal of community sharps should stress that syringes, or containers of needles, syringes and lancets etc are not recyclable and because of the high risk of needlestick injury to workers they must never be placed into recycling collection services.

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