"What is a Sharp?" & Other Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Proper Disposal

The subject of handling and disposing of regulated medical waste — and more specifically, sharps — is complicated and confusing. At Curtis Bay Medical Waste Services, we hear a lot of the same questions, and it’s our job to answer them.

A few frequently asked questions regarding sharps and their disposal:

What is a "sharp"?

In medical terms, it is any device with a sharp point(s) or edges that can puncture or cut skin. A sharp can be a needle, a syringe, an injection device, a lancet, or any other medical implement that is, well, sharp.

Why is it important to dispose of used sharps properly?

Used needles and other sharps can be dangerous to people and animals if not disposed of safely. Improper disposal of sharps can lead to needle sticks and injury that may ultimately result in the transmission of infectious disease, such as Hepatitis B (HBV), Hepatitis C (HCV) and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Sharps are often considered biohazard waste, and must be disposed of appropriately.

What type of disposal containers can I use?

Used sharps should be immediately placed in a designated sharps container. This container, seen in most (if not all) medical offices, is made of hard, red plastic and fitted with a lid. FDA approved sharps containers can be obtained from a pharmaceutical or medical supply company, as well as, your local pharmacy or directly from us, Curtis Bay Medical Waste Services! We offer various sizes of sharps containers to fit any need, including a mail-back container program.

Check out our sharps container options on our online store.

How can I find out specific information regarding local sharps disposal regulations?

Sharps disposal regulations are different around the world, and throughout the United States. Curtis Bay Medical Waste Services recommends that you contact us directly to discuss the regulations in your state and local area with a medical waste expert. We can walk you through the regulations and find a disposal options that works best for your situation and ensures compliance.

Can I throw the filled sharps containers in the trash?

Again, depending on your state and local area, this is a question for specific discussion with a medical waste expert. The state of Maryland currently allows patients to place used sharps in a household container (e.g., a laundry detergent bottle, or another opaque sturdy plastic container with a screw-top lid) for disposal in the garbage.

Loose needles and syringes should never be placed directly in the trash, nor should they be flushed down the toilet; likewise, sharps and their containers should never be recycled.

Still have questions regarding the proper disposal of sharps?

We are here to help! Curtis Bay Medical Waste Services has over 25 years of experience in safe and environmentally sustainable management and disposal of sharps. Please call 855-228-1715 for more information.