Sharps Waste Bin Disposal Guide 2024

Sharps waste being disposed of in a yellow sharps bin

Table of Contents:

What is Sharps Waste?

Sharps waste refers to any material or object with sharp edges or points (that can cut the skin) which needs to be discarded. This includes things like syringes, needles, broken glass, or even some sharp plastics.

This type of waste is considered to be dangerous because of the potential for it to puncture human skin, causing injury or infection. Therefore, this waste should be treated with caution.

What Can Go in a Sharps Bin?

Common types of waste you can put in a sharps bin include:

  • Disposable scalpels
  • Razor blades
  • Broken glass
  • Broken plastic
  • Hypodermic needles
  • Tattoo needles
  • Syringes
  • Scissors
  • Piercing needles
  • Shards of bone or teeth
  • Pins
  • Staples
  • Insulin pens
  • Lancets
  • Metal wiring
Sharps waste bin with needles and syringes falling out of it

What Are Sharps Bins?

These bins are designed to hold potentially hazardous and dangerous types of waste.

  • They’re made of durable material which can’t be easily damaged or leak.

  • They come with a sealable/lockable lid to ensure that nothing escapes, is spilt, or poses danger to wayward hands

  • They typically have colour-coded lids for the various types of waste

  • Are available in a range of shapes and sizes

Which Sharps Bins Do I Need?

There are various types of sharps bins which are colour-coded to help you separate your waste into the correct containers.

Non-pharmaceutical sharps bins – (orange lid) – are used for tattoo needles, piercing needles, knives or stationery products.

a photo of a sharps waste bin with an orange lid

Sharps contaminated with medicinal products – (yellow lid) – are used for needles, syringes or other sharps which have been used with medicines and pharmaceuticals. For example, needles are used to administer injections.

a photo of a sharps waste bin with a yellow lid

Sharps contaminated with hazardous chemicals – (purple lid) – are used for sharps contaminated with cytotoxic or cytostatic medicines. For example, medicinal vials.

a photo of a sharps waste bin with a purple lid

Where Should I Store My Sharps Waste Disposal Bins?

Due to this type of clinical waste posing such a significant health and safety risk to humans and animals, you need to store them in a safe location.

We recommend that they’re kept up from the floor (wall mounted) so that they can’t be knocked over easily and everyone in the room with the sharps bin is aware of where it is.

You also need to remember to lock or seal your clinical waste bin after disposing of your sharps.

Which Businesses Need Sharps Bin Disposal?

Businesses which need sharps disposal include:

photograph of someone putting sharps waste in a special bin

How is Sharps Waste Disposed Of?

To ensure that sharps are disposed of safely, they’re either disinfected or, in most cases, incinerated.

Autoclaves are used to disinfect the waste. These are a type of pressure chamber which uses high temperatures to sterilise the waste.

How do you dispose of needles and syringes?

Needles and syringes need to be placed in a locked-lid sharps bin.

Depending on whether the needles and syringes have been contaminated with medical substances or not will determine whether they’re incinerated or disinfected.

If they have been contaminated then they need to be incinerated. If they’re not (sharps in the orange lid bin), then they can be sterilised.

When Should Sharps Bins be Disposed Of?

Sharps containers should be discarded once they are approximately 3/4 full.

This minimises the chances of injuries or cross-contamination during waste pickup and ensures compliance with the relevant waste disposal laws.

It’s important not to store sharp objects on your premises for more than a month.

Therefore, it’s essential to use a service that can offer a monthly collection of your sharps bins (just like us!).

Are Sharps Hazardous Waste?

Infected sharps are considered to be hazardous or specialist waste.

They need to be stored, collected and disposed of in a safe and risk-mitigated way because of their danger to humans and the environment.

photograph of a bloody syringle needle

What Are the Laws Regarding Sharps Bins?

The two most important laws and regulations to be aware of for sharps waste disposal are:

Health and Safety (Sharp Instruments in Healthcare) Regulations 2013 and 2015 – training should be given to all employees who are likely to come into contact with sharps. The sharps must also be labelled and stored in secured containers.

Hazardous Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2005 – any waste which is deemed to be hazardous for humans, animals or the environment must be stored in a secure fashion before disposal.

How Can I Get Sharps Bins, and How Do I Get Them Collected?

By using a service like Waste Managed, we’ll provide your sharps bins to you for free and arrange for a collection schedule suited to your business.

Our expert team can provide friendly advice on the best sharps bin options for your business and ensure that you not only get an affordable solution but a compliant one too.


In conclusion, managing sharps waste efficiently and safely is crucial for a wide range of businesses, especially those in the healthcare, tattoo, and pharmaceutical sectors.

Sharps waste, due to its ability to puncture or cut skin, poses significant health and safety risks. By using colour-coded sharps bins for different types of waste and adhering to proper disposal methods, businesses can mitigate these risks.

It’s imperative to be aware of and comply with relevant laws and regulations to ensure the safety of employees, patients, and the environment.

Services like Waste Managed play a vital role in providing compliant sharps disposal solutions, offering the necessary bins and arranging for their timely collection.

By following these guidelines and leveraging professional waste management services, businesses can maintain a safe and healthy environment.

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