A sharps bin is a container used to dispose of sharp medical supplies. They are for used by people who need to dispose of sharps (needles, or other sharp items) that need to be used in the course of their medical treatment. There are a lot of medical conditions that require people to self-inject medications if they are happy and comfortable to do so. Some examples of these include anticoagulants to prevent blood clots, immune system modulators for inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, fertility treatments and growth hormone deficiency treatments. People with diabetes that use insulin or test their blood sugar levels will also need a sharps bin. Items that can go in a sharps bin include needles, syringes, broken glass, finger pricking devices such as lancets, and clippers used to detach needles and the sharp part of syringes. Sharps bins come in a range of different sizes, depending on the capacity that is needed by the patient.
Sharps bins are available on prescription. If you need one, you should speak to your doctor. You can also buy sharps bins from a pharmacy or other online retailers.
Putting sharps in a regular bin can be dangerous as it can cause needle-stick injuries to those sorting the waste. Also, in worst-case scenarios, it is possible for blood-borne viruses like HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C to spread via contact with sharps contaminated with infected blood.
If we’re getting into the ‘expert’ level of sharps bins, then it’s important to know that the lids of sharps bins are coloured coded based on the type of waste that should go in them. Sharps bins with a yellow lid are for all sharps except those containing cytotoxic medications. These include some cancer, hormone, steroid, and immunosuppressant medications. Cytotoxic sharps should go in a purple-lidded sharps bin instead. Sharps bins with an orange lid are for sharps not containing any medications. You should put your sharps in the correct type of bin so they can be disposed of safely. If you have any questions, you can speak to your pharmacist about which sharps bin you should get depending on what is going inside it.
Sharps bin disposal varies depending on where you live. You should speak to your local council to establish what arrangements are available in your area. You may also be able to take your sharps bin to your local pharmacy or doctor's surgery. For safety, you should make sure your sharps bin is fully sealed before disposal, and do not fill it above the maximum capacity line.