One of the hardest things to get information on when it comes to diabetes has been how to properly dispose of used diabetes supplies like lancets, test strips and syringes.  Well that and the impact caffeine has on blood sugars, but let’s stick to the disposal issue.

While doing some research, I came across this site by the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), which lets you choose your state in the U.S. to get more information on.  A startling fact on their site is that approximately 3 billion syringes are used in households each year and require disposal.  That’s a lot of injections huh.  The largest issue with placing used diabetes supplies in the trash is that “it places people at risk of being stuck by a needle and increases their chances of contracting a bloodborne infection” (cdc.gov)

Click here to find out what your state recommends!

Sharps container

According to my trusty diabetes resource, the American Diabetes Association, proper disposal of syringes is to safely snip the needle off the syringe, which requires a special device so the needle doesn’t go flying into someone’s eye or something.  Yeah, like people are going to take the time to snip each needle and used lancet…  The other method they recommend is to place the used object into “a heavy-duty plastic bottle with screw cap or metal box that closes firmly”.  The first thing that comes to mind is that a plastic soda bottle would definitely not be puncture proof. 

Not really satisfied, I called my pharmacy where I get my supplies and they told me that they just refer people to their doctors.  I called my Endocrinologist who doesn’t believe in answering the phone unless it’s between 10:24 and 10:29 in the morning with nobody checking in.  Call me crazy, but doesn’t it seem like there should be a universal location that is readily accessible to everyone where medical supplies can be disposed of properly and without added cost?  My guess is that the doctor’s office would take them and include them with medical waste.  But what if you live far away (like I did while attending the Joslin Clinic) and it’s not convenient? 

I did find a service that you could purchase to have safe containers shipped to you (3 of them) with prepaid shipping back, but the cost was like $170 -  ‘F’ that.  Like we don’t have enough to pay for…

In the end, I learned that in Maryland, all you need to do is place the used supplies in a puncture proof container (which can be purchased everywhere like Target) and put it in the regular garbage.  I’m not sure why there isn’t a Federal mandate that covers all states when it comes to this issue that obviously crosses state lines.   Amazon sells a package of 12 for $32, which would last a while.  Each state may have different laws and regulations, so check before you follow what’s listed below for Maryland.

Maryland’s Guidelines (source):

Recommends that sharps be:

  • wrapped securely in paper or other material;
  • placed in tough plastic or metal containers with tightly sealed lids, such as detergent containers or coffee cans; and
  • placed safely in the trash can.

It also includes these warnings:

  • Sharps cannot be recycled.
  • Sharps should only be properly disposed of.
  • Sharps should not be tossed in the trash haphazardly.
  • Sharps should not be placed in soft containers such as milk jugs or cartons that can be easily punctured.