Sharps disposal bins

There are a relatively small number of commercial manufacturers of community sharps disposal bins in NSW and other states, supplying units ranging from small wall-mounted single syringe bins suitable for public toilets and restrooms to 240 litre bins which house a wheelie bin for collection of sharps and are suitable for disposal of larger sharps containers. These units may vary considerably in strength and durability so a comparison of product specifications is recommended prior to purchase.

While there are no legislative requirements for the design of outer housings for community sharps bins in NSW, there are a number of design criteria that should be considered when comparing community sharps bins in order to satisfy duty of care and WHS obligations.

Community sharps bins for the disposal of sharps in containers should be:

  • of strong and vandal-resistant construction
  • designed to accommodate an internal container that conforms to the relevant AS for sharps containers, or meets WHS criteria for the collection, transport and disposal of sharps waste
  • weather resistant to minimise the penetration of moisture into the unit (stainless steel or other corrosion resistant materials will provide longer life in coastal areas where mild sheet steel is subject to corrosion)
  • designed with no sharp edges on external or internal surfaces of the bin and disposal chute that could cause blockage or injury
  • secured onto a post, wall, floor or other structure using very strong and vandal resistant brackets/bolts/housing
  • designed so as to not impede the function and serviceability of the sharps container within
  • designed to incorporate a non-return night safe-type chute for depositing sharps
  • designed so that the contents of the bin are inaccessible to people depositing sharps, or to the public
  • incorporate a minimum two point locking system
  • incorporate a floor in case of spillage or overflow of the contents
  • clearly identified by signage as being only for the disposal of community sharps
  • readily distinguishable by means of colour and signage from other public bins (e.g. postal, clothing, waste or recycling bins)
  • designed so that the access point for disposal is at a sufficient height from the ground to be inaccessible to small children (1300 mm minimum)
  • able to accommodate a specified size of sharps container. This is important when advising residents on disposal options for larger containers, as sharps containers are produced in a range of sizes and shapes that may not fit into the bin.

All community sharps bin access points for servicing or maintenance must be kept secured and inaccessible other than by key.

Choosing the right bin size

1.4 & 1.8 litre bins can only accommodate single syringe disposal and may jam if not managed appropriately

  • are suitable for sites where you expect injecting to occur and disposal to happen immediately after
  • cannot accommodate other types of waste so ensure there is adequate options for disposal of paraphernalia including wrappers, spoons and tourniquets
  • ensure the bins says “single sharps disposal only” or something to that effect

23L bins can accommodate containers up to 1 litre and loose syringes.

120L bins can accommodate up to 3.1L containers.

240L bins can accommodate up to 5L containers.

The frequency of servicing should be flexible to account for the needs of the location, but should not be less than once per fortnight, even if numbers are low, as bins should be monitored. Failure to regularly empty or maintain bins may attract liability for the bin owner if a member of the public sustains a needle stick injury.

The location needs to be safe and accessible while offering some discretion.

Lighting should be adequate and there should be no violet lights.

Essential numbers & information on the bin:

Bin owner/operator

Servicing/repairs line

Optional but recommended:

Needle clean up hotline

Needlestick injury contact

NSW Ministry of Health logo