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Disposing of Sharps, Syringes, and Other Related Waste

Management and disposal of sharps, syringes, and pharmaceutical waste.

Household Generated Sharps

Disposing of Syringes from Households: Do's and Don'ts GI-418
How to safely dispose of needles (i.e. sharps) and syringes generated in your household or other place of lodging.

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Sharps and Syringes Generated by Health-Care Agency at Patient's Home

Sharps are considered medical waste when generated by a health care-related facility per Title 25, Texas Administrative Code, Subsection 1.132(46) [25 TAC 1.132(46)Exit the TCEQ]. A home health care agency is considered a health care-related facility under 25 TAC 1.134(14)Exit the TCEQ.

  • If a representative from a home health care agency is administering injections to a patient at the patient’s home, then the sharps are medical waste and must be taken back to the home health care agency and disposed of through a medical waste management system for treatment prior to disposal.
  • If a patient is self-injecting or a family member is administering injections, they should follow the recommendations for household generated sharps.

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Sharps Containers from a Health-Care Related Facility

Sharps generated from a health care-related facility as defined in 25 TAC 1.134Exit the TCEQ must be managed as medical waste. Options for managing such waste include:

  • Self-transport the waste to an authorized medical waste processing facility;
  • Engage a registered medical waste transporter to pick up the waste for transport to an authorized facility for treatment and disposal;
  • Send the waste to a an authorized facility using the US Postal Service; or
  • Treat the waste on-site following the procedures regarding notification of on-site treatment on our Information for Generators of Medical Waste page. Use one of the pre-approved treatment methods in the Texas Department of State Health Services' (DSHS) rules 25 TAC 1.136(a)(5)Exit the TCEQ or an alternative treatment technology approved by DSHS. You may encapsulate sharps in a hard matrix -e.g. plaster of paris works well- inside a container that is sealed and labeled and then disposed of with your routine trash.

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Used, Expired, and Unused Pharmaceutical Waste

The management and disposal of pharmaceutical waste depends on whether it is generated by a household or by a health care-related facility.

Pharmaceutical Waste Generated by a Household

The TCEQ does not regulate the disposal of pharmaceutical waste from households or residency establishments (e.g. hotels) but recommends these options:

  • Return expired or unused drugs to pharmaceutical take-back locations that allow the public to bring them unused drugs to a central location for safe disposal, such as a local city, county, or the DEA national Rx take back eventExit the TCEQ;
  • Remove drugs from the original container, make the drugs unusable by encapsulating them in impermeable, nondescript containers or sealable bags filled with plaster of paris, used coffee grounds, or kitty litter and throw the containers in the regular trash for disposal in a landfill; or
  • Check the disposal instructions on the drug packaging to determine if the drug may be flushed down the drain into a sanitary sewer system, and contact the waste water treatment plant for the sewer system to confirm if that practice is acceptable.

Pharmaceutical Waste Generated by a Health Care-Related Facility

    Manage pharmaceutical waste based in the following categorizations:
  • Hazardous Pharmaceutical Wastes— Manage as hazardous waste any pharmaceutical wastes that are listed as hazardous by EPA under Title 40, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 261.33 ( 40 CFR 261.33Exit the TCEQ) or that include ingredients that may cause the medication to show the toxicity characteristic under 40 CFR.
  • Nonhazardous Pharmaceutical Wastes—Manage as special waste any pharmaceutical wastes that are nonhazardous per Title 30, Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 330. In addition, Title 30, Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 326 does not specifically address the disposal of nonhazardous pharmaceutical waste. Although is not required, TCEQ recommends that health care-related facilities contact authorized medical waste treatment facilities for their treatment and disposal procedures and landfills for their disposal procedures.
  • Reverse Distribution Program—You may return pharmaceutical wastes to the manufacturer if the pharmaceutical manufacturer offers a reverse distribution program.

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Contact MSW Permits Section

Contact the MSW Permits Section if you have questions about managing medical waste.

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