Proper disposal of needles that have been used to inject drugs involves several steps that include the appropriate collecting, carrying, storing, transferring and disposing of biomedical waste. The proper disposal of used needles prevents re-using and sharing of needles, prevents needle stick injuries and limits the number of discarded needles found in the community. Not having a convenient place to dispose of needles can result in their being improperly discarded in public places.

Needles are used by a variety of people, for a variety of purposes, including for medical reasons and for non-medical injection drug use. It is recommended that multiple needle disposal options are available. Recommendations also include:

  • working in accordance with local, provincial and federal regulations regarding the disposal of medical waste
  • providing multiple options and locations for return and disposal of equipment used to inject drugs
  • installing public disposal boxes
  • promoting pharmacy disposal

The Needle Disposal: Guidance for Policies and Procedures provides additional information about the proper disposal of needles. The guide supports City divisions in the development of proper needle disposal policies and procedures in non-healthcare settings.  It is also meant to be a shareable resource that could inform organizations outside of the City of Toronto. This document does not provide recommendations for healthcare settings, as these settings should follow specific recommendations suited for the kind of services they provide.