If you or someone you know has been punctured by a medical sharp (needle, syringe, scalpel) or broken glass that you suspect is contaminated, please go to your nearest emergency ward, call 911 or contact Telehealth Ontario toll-free at 1-866-797-0000.
NO medical waste is acceptable in the Recycling (Blue Box) Program. Medical waste is any kind of waste that contains infectious material (or material that’s potentially infectious). Anything that comes in contact with a body (living or deceased) would be considered medical waste.
What is Medical Waste?
Medical waste can contain bodily fluids like blood or other contaminants. This can be defined as waste generated during medical research, testing, diagnosis, immunization, or treatment of either human beings or animals. Some examples are culture dishes, glassware, bandages, gloves, discarded sharps like needles or scalpels, swabs, and tissue.
This type of waste can be generated at:
- Body Art Parlours
- Clinical Laboratories
- Dental Offices
- Doctor Offices
- Funeral Homes
- Home Healthcare Organizations
- Pharmaceutical Companies
- Retirement and Nursing Homes
- Safe Injection Sites
- Tattoo Parlours
- Veterinary Clinics/Hospitals
Where to Take Your Medical Waste
As with other materials, everything has a place to be disposed of properly. Here is a list of the most common items we see in our facility. If you’re unsure of something, please see our Resources section below.
- Prescription bottles. Make sure your bottle is empty and the label with your identifying information is removed or defaced. Some pharmacies will take back your empty bottles. Otherwise, they are garbage.
- Medicine Bottles. Over the counter medicine bottles are recyclable if they are WHITE, EMPTY and CLEAN. Think Aspirin, Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen.
- ‘Other’ Medicine Bottles. Bottles that contain liquids such as methadone, are NOT recyclable. These need to be returned to the facility you received them from. If you are a clinic or pharmacy, as an example, return them to your supplier. These are considered a hazard to recycling employees.
- Needles, Sharps, Syringes and Epi-Pens. These should never go in your recycling. Designated Sharps Containers are available from your pharmacy for free and can be returned to your pharmacy when it’s full, at no cost.
- Gauze, Tissues and Antibacterial Wipes. Because these contain bodily fluids, they cannot be recycled and need to be put into your garbage. Even clean, they are not a material that can be accepted by any recycling facility.
- Vials and Urine Bottles. Whether these are made out of plastic or glass, they are not recyclable. Either return them to your medical professional or put them in the garbage.
- Medical Tubing, Breathing Tubes, IV Tubes and Bags. 100% garbage. They may seem like a recyclable material, but they are not.
- Safe Injection Kits. These kits include rubber bands, dispensing tin (stericup), lighters, condoms and rubber gloves. None of these items are recyclable whether they are new or used. Please place these items in the garbage.
- Leak Protection Products. These include child and adult diapers, pads and menstrual products. There is nothing recyclable about these materials. Always put in the garbage. There are cloth made alternatives that can be washed and reused.
- Leftover Medication. Any medication that is unused should always be returned to your pharmacy. They shouldn’t be put into your recycling, garbage or flushed into the sewer system. They can also be taken to our Hazardous Waste Depot in Belleville.
- Face Masks and Disposable Gloves. These belong in the garbage at all times.
Risks and Treatment
If someone has been accidentally pricked or scratched by a medical sharp (needles, syringes, razors, scalpels, scissors, etc.), they will need to:
- Encourage bleeding at the site of the puncture by squeezing the wound to increase the flow of blood.
- Wash the wound with soap and warm water to eliminate viruses and bacteria.
- Don’t scrub the wound or suck on the wound.
- Dry and cover the wound.
- Go immediately to an emergency department for assessment.
- At the hospital, the health care provider will assess risk and conduct baseline blood-borne infection testing (Hep B/Hep C/HIV). The health care provider will also consider whether Hep B and/or HIV post-exposure prophylactic treatment and/or Hep B vaccination is recommended.
- Follow-up blood testing is recommended at 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months and 1-year post-injury.
Check out this information sheet on ‘What To Do Next’ for accidental punctures.
You can reach out to the following health care professionals for more information:
City of Quinte West – Medical Waste Exemption Program
Hastings and Prince Edward Public Health
Ministry of Health/Ministry of Long-Term Care
Ontario College of Pharmacists
Ontario Hospital Association
The Management of Biomedical Waste In Ontario
World Health Organization