California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle)

Household Hazardous Waste

Sharps Waste Disposal

Program News...

The Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) is working to help develop a safe, convenient, and cost-effective infrastructure for collecting and properly disposing of home-generated sharps waste. Decreasing the number of sharps disposed in landfills will help prevent potential health risks to landfill and material recovery facility workers. CalRecycle's Waste Prevention Information Exchange, Health Care Waste at Home provides more information about how to appropriately manage other health care waste at home. You may also want to consult with the California Department of Public Health, which regulates medical waste (see definitions below) through their Medical Waste Management Program.

The Problem

A 2008 study titled, Characteristics of persons and jobs with needlestick injuries in a national data set, (J. Paul Leigh, PhD, suggested that "nationwide each year 25 percent or roughly 150,000 to 200,000 needlesticks occurred outside the health services industry for a cost of $38 million."



Section 117671 of 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.

Home-generated sharps waste is considered medical waste once collected at a point of consolidation. Section 117690 of the California Health and Safety code defines "medical waste" in part as,"... waste which is generated or produced as a result of...the accumulation of properly contained home-generated sharps waste that is brought by a patient, a member of the patient's family, or by a person authorized by the enforcement agency to a point of consolidation approved by the enforcement agency pursuant to Section 117904 or authorized pursuant to Section 118147".

The Law

Beginning on Sept. 1, 2008, state law (Section 118286 of the California Health and Safety Code) makes 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 a sharps container approved by the local enforcement agency.

For More Information

Stay informed about the latest developments in CalRecycle’s efforts to promote safe disposal of sharps waste.

Last updated: March 3, 2014
Sharps Waste Disposal Program
Medication Waste Disposal