Diabetes Medical Waste Recycling and Disposal

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Help reduce the environmental impact of Type 1 Diabetes management by knowing how to properly dispose of the medical waste produced.

The options for medical waste disposal varies by state. Check your states requirements and dispose of accordingly.

Waste Types / Sharps / CGM / Pumps / Travel

Waste Types

Regular, recyclable, medical/sharps and mixed waste are all present in diabetic supplies.

Look for a recycling symbol on test strip boxes, infusion set boxes, packaging inserts, plastic needle caps and dispose of in the recycling waste bin.

The options for medical/sharps waste disposal varies by state. Check your states requirements and dispose of accordingly.

Mixed waste can refer to any combination of different waste types. Typically medical devices like CGMs (Dexcom and Libre) and pumps like OmniPod are this type of waste. Call your trash/waste company to determine if they have a mixed waste disposal location or program.

Sharps

Here are few ideas from various states on how to dispose of your used sharps.

  • Sharps Container – purchase a sharps container with with or without return postage.
  • Alternative Sharps Container – the FDA provides guidelines for medial waste disposal when not using a sharps container. The basics are to find a non-permeable container with a lid, label the container with “sharps” and fill it. When full, dispose of according to your state’s rules. Non-permeable container ideas include:
    • Juice bottle
    • Coffee creamer bottle
    • Laundry detergent bottle
  • Needle Clip – A needle clip eliminates the need for a sharps container for syringes and pen needles. Simply clip the needle and the needle clip retains the clipped needle. Once the needle clip is full (1500 needles), the entire device is disposed of according to state laws. Great for home use or when traveling.
  • Endocrinologist – ask your Endo’s office if they assist in disposal of sharps.
  • Public Services – fire departments, police stations and/or your local hospital may offer disposal options.
  • Trash Company – call your trash/waste company to determine if they have a sharps and/or mixed waste disposal location.
  • Pharmacy – local pharmacies may offer drop-offs for sharps containers.
  • County Health Department – may offer sharps container exchange program (full container for an empty container).

CGMs

The Dexcom CGM G6 applicator is made of non recyclable plastic and is considered mixed waste (sharps, metal and regular waste). Check with your local trash/waste company to inquire about proper disposal for mixed waste. Used sensor can be placed in the Sharps container.

The Libre sensor pack is regular waste, the applicator is mixed waste and the used sensor should be disposed of in the sharps container.

Pump Site Changes

OmniPod – a used OmniPod is considered mixed-waste (sharps, plastic and batteries are all inside a pod). Insulet offers recycling of used pods for podders in Canada and the United Kingdom. The recycle program in the USA was retired in 2018. For podders in the USA, it is recommend to contact your local trash/waste company to inquire about proper disposal for mixed waste.

Look for recycling symbols on other pump infusion set and packaging and dispose of according.

Travel

When traveling, sharps containers can be found at airports, theme parks, first aid stations at large attractions and most hotels and cruise lines offer medical waste disposal container / services.

The needle clip or a travel sharps container / tube are great medical waste disposal options when traveling.

When proper waste management is not possible, we pack-up and bring home for disposal.


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