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HealthInfo Aoraki-South Canterbury

Safe sharps disposal

Sharps is a medical term for devices with sharp points or edges that can puncture or cut skin.

Types of sharps

You might use sharps at home, at work, and while travelling. They help manage the medical conditions of people and pets. Medical conditions managed with sharps include:

  • allergies
  • arthritis
  • cancer
  • diabetes
  • hepatitis
  • HIV and AIDS
  • infertility
  • migraines
  • multiple sclerosis
  • osteoporosis
  • blood clotting disorders
  • psoriasis.


Used needles and other sharps are dangerous if they aren't disposed of safely. They can injure people and spread infections that cause serious health conditions.

The most common infections that can be spread by used sharps are Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

It is important to dispose of sharps safely wherever you are. This includes home, work, school and travelling. It also includes public places such as hotels, parks and restaurants.

How to dispose of sharps safely

Always place loose needles and other sharps into approved sharps containers. Never flush them down the toilet. Don't place them in household or public rubbish bins or recycling bins. This puts others at risk.

You can get approved sharps disposal bins from your pharmacy free of charge.

Return the closed sharps container to the pharmacy and get a replacement when it is full.

Written by South Canterbury DHB Primary and Community Services. Last reviewed June 2017.

Page reference: 215025

Review key: HISSD-215024