Sharps & Medication
Sharps Waste Disposal
Senate Bill 486: Pharmaceutical Manufacturer Sharps Disposal Plans
- The Law
- 2016 Sharps Disposal Plans
- Past Sharps Disposal Plans
- Frequently Asked Questions
- For More Information
The following is a synopsis of Senate Bill 486 (SB 486) that was signed into law in October 2009 and is codified within the Public Resources Code, Section 47115-47116 (Chapter 1 of Part 7 of Division 30).
- Who is affected? A pharmaceutical manufacturer that sells or distributes 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 other similar device.
- What is required? A plan must be submitted to the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) that describes the actions, if any, taken by the manufacturer to 1) 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.
- When is it due? Plans are due to CalRecycle annually by July 1.
Note: please refer to the specific language of the law for exact compliance requirements. Also, as listed on this page in reference to SB 486 requirements, the term "sharps" does not pertain to lancets.
2016 Sharps Disposal Plans
CalRecycle has received sharps collection and disposal plans from the entities listed below. CalRecycle is following up with known pharmaceutical manufacturers to determine whether they are subject to the reporting requirement. Additional plans will be posted here as we receive them.
Note: Those listed below with a previous year date stamp notified CalRecycle that their existing plan can continue to be used without change.
The purpose of the above lists is to provide to the public the sharps collection and disposal plan submitted to CalRecycle by each company listed. Inclusion in the lists does not constitute CalRecycle's endorsement of the company or its product(s). CalRecycle makes no representation that the lists are complete, current, or accurate. Other disclaimers apply. To add or remove companies from the lists, contact the staff listed at the bottom of this page. Such changes are subject to the discretion of CalRecycle.
Past Sharps Disposal Plans
Sharps disposal plans from the previous years have been archived here:
- 2015 Sharps Disposal Plans
- 2014 Sharps Disposal Plans
- 2013 Sharps Disposal Plans
- 2012 Sharps Disposal Plans
- 2011 Sharps Disposal Plans
- 2010 Sharps Disposal Plans
Do pharmaceutical manufacturers have to fund the proposed activities in the plan or provide the solution?
The pharmaceutical manufacturers affected by SB 486 have to describe how their actions, if any, support or provide for, and educate consumers about, the collection and proper disposal of the waste devices. Options may include funding the plan; providing the solution for sharps collection, disposal, and education; helping to fund the efforts of other stakeholders; taking actions that support collection, disposal, and education efforts; etc.
What would this disposal plan entail? Selling an additional container to ship back, or having some sort of drop-off service available at pharmacies?
SB 486 does not specify the level of detail so all options are available. If the manufacturers are looking for ideas for potential actions to include in their plans, one option may be to look at the hundreds of collection sites in California listed on our Sharps and Medication Disposal Directory to get an idea of how they may support these existing solutions. We estimate at least one-third of all collection sites are at pharmacies. Out of California's 58 counties, one county and one city have an ordinance that requires any retail establishment that sells sharps to accept the used sharps for proper disposal. Other jurisdictions are considering a similar ordinance. Approximately 50 counties provide free disposal. At least eight counties and some cities provide free sharps containers and one county provides free mail-back containers to its residents as long as supplies last.
Since SB 486 includes the language, “if any” in the requirement that pharmaceutical manufacturers describe how their actions, if any, provide for the collection and disposal of sharps, how does this bill contribute to effective sharps collection and disposal?
The Senate analysis of this bill states: "According to the author's office, with the prohibition of disposal of sharps in the waste stream and no convenient, cost effect [sic] method of management identified, it is time to take steps to find a solution of the problem. The first step to that is to identify what the companies that manufacture the medicines that are dispensed through a ‘sharp’ are doing to help their customers address the disposal ban issue… The author's office believes that this bill represents a first step toward developing an EPR [Extended Producer Responsibility] approach to the management of sharps, and provides a way to determine what the pharmaceutical industry is doing to assist with the effort to manage sharps."
Third Party Evaluations
CalRecycle will not evaluate the sharps collection and disposal plans since it is not mandated by SB 486. However, third-party groups (representatives of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Diabetes Coalition of California, the California Conference of Environmental Health Directors, and other consumer health organizations) evaluated the plans posted on this website. Based on this evaluation, each plan was given a grade as shown on the graph below. Please note though, pharmaceutical manufacturers' plans are not required to comply with the criteria used in these evaluations.
CalRecycle is not affiliated with these organizations’ and shares the evaluations performed by these organizations solely for informational purposes. However, Senator Joe Simitian, the author of SB 486, supported the evaluations provided by the organizations mentioned above.
See this group’s evaluations and annual Report Cards posted since the first 2010 submittals.
Stay informed about the latest developments in CalRecycle’s efforts to promote safe disposal of sharps waste.
- Listserv: To receive periodic information about sharps, subscribe to the Sharps and Medication Listserv.
- Contact: Please contact PharmaSharps@calrecycle.ca.gov for more information or answers to your questions.
Sharps Waste Disposal Program http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/HomeHazWaste/Sharps/
Medication Waste Disposal http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/HomeHazWaste/Medications/