Used sharps such as needles and syringes must be disposed of appropriately to minimise the likelihood of spreading infectious diseases. Appropriate disposal includes correct handling, the use of approved sharps bins and disposal at an approved waste site. Used sharps and infectious waste should not be disposed of in Council rubbish /recycling bins.
Disposal of sharps used at home (eg diabetic, IV drug users)
Residents who need to dispose of sharps can obtain a sharps container from our Service Centres in Greensborough and Ivanhoe only. Once the container is full it can be returned to Council for appropriate disposal and a replacement container can be obtained.
Single syringes can also be disposed of in the syringe disposal bins at our public toilets located at Malahang Reserve in Heidelberg West, Heidelberg Park in Heidelberg, and Watsonia Park in Watsonia.
Disposal of sharps from businesses such as acupuncturists, doctors, hairdressers
Businesses that use sharps for procedures/services they provide must arrange for sharps disposal via a private contractor. Private contractors that collect and dispose of sharps are listed in the Yellow Pages under Medical Waste Disposal.
Disposal of discarded syringes
Collection by Council
A very low percentage of used syringes end up discarded in public places. If you come across a discarded syringe you can contact Council on 9490 4222, any time, to arrange for it to be removed.
How to collect and dispose of discarded syringes
People (eg businesses, schools, sporting clubs etc) who regularly need to collect and dispose of discarded syringes can also obtain syringe containers from Council. It is recommended that you only attempt to remove and dispose of discarded syringes if you are adequately prepared and feel comfortable to do so. The common procedure for removing a syringe from a public place is outlined below.
- Consider the safety of the location, including the slope and the surface and the likelihood of being bumped or pushed while picking up the syringe.
- Make sure you have a clear view of the syringe. Carefully remove any nearby rubbish or debris that is obstructing your view of the syringe. Do not put your hand into any area that you do not have a clear view of.
- Put on disposable latex or vinyl gloves (if available). Gloves will not prevent you from being injured but will form a clean barrier between the hands and the syringe.
- Thicker gloves such as gardening gloves reduce your dexterity and make it difficult to safely handle the syringe.
- If there is more than one syringe, only pick one syringe up at a time. If syringes are close together carefully separate them by using a stick or the end of a broom.
- Do not attempt to recap the needle – this is how most accidental needle-stick injuries happen. The cap is usually bright orange and can be disposed of like normal rubbish.
- Do not break, bend or otherwise try to render the syringe useless.
- The syringe container must be placed on the ground or flat stable surface beside the syringe (not held in the hand).
- If an approved syringe container is not available use a rigid puncture proof sealable container eg. Liquid detergent bottle (not glass or soft plastic bottle).
- This container will then need to be placed in an approved sharps container for disposal.
- Pick up the used syringe by the plunger / barrel (plastic end), with the needle pointing away from you. Never touch the sharp end/point with your fingers or hands.
- Place the needle/syringe into the sharps container and close the lid.
- Remove gloves and put them in a plastic bag (tie a knot in the bag and place it in a rubbish bin). Wash your hands with running water and soap.
- Place the container in a secure/child proof location (eg car boot, locked cabinet).
- Take the container to our Greensborough or Ivanhoe Service Centres for disposal.
What to do if you get a needle stick injury
If you get pricked by a discarded needle (a needle stick injury), take the following steps:
- Don’t panic – the risk of serious infection is very low.
- Wash the wound well with soap and running water (alcohol based hand rubs or wipes can be used when soap and water are not available).
- Put antiseptic on the wound and cover with a sterile adhesive dressing.
- Seek medical attention for an assessment of the risk of infection and appropriate treatment.
- If the needle/syringe involved in the injury cannot be safely collected (see guidelines above), mark the area so others are not at risk and contact us to arrange for it to be removed.
More information and advice on syringe disposal and related services is also available from the Syringe Disposal Help-Line - 24 hours a day seven days a week - 1800 552 355.