A special guest post from Annmarie Creamer, Recycling Program Outreach Coordinator with the Frederick County Department of Solid Waste Management
Not everything can be recycled. And of what’s left for disposal, there are some things that shouldn’t just be tossed in the trash. We’re here to help! If you have questions about how to dispose of a particular item, email your questions to recycle@FrederickCountyMD.gov.
Even if it isn’t recyclable, we can let you know how to properly handle the waste that you have.
We’re tackling the subject of medical and biohazard waste. What do you do with any bottles of old prescriptions or used syringes that may be in your house? Here’s the scoop:*
Pharmaceuticals—especially prescription medicines (for humans and animals)—can potentially be both a health hazard and environmental pollutant; alternate disposal options should be considered before flushing them down a toilet or throwing them out for disposal in a landfill.
These materials can be collected and brought to Frederick County’s Household Hazardous Waste Drop Off events, where they will be collected for proper disposal, at no charge. Prescription medicines must be in their original container with the label identifying the contents still intact in order to be accepted. Two drop off events are held each year, in the spring and fall.
Sharps (hypodermic needles)
Improperly disposing of sharps used at home can pose a public health risk. If not properly secured, discarded needles may expose your trash collection crew and other waste workers to potential needle stick injuries and potential infection.
There are two main routes for handling needles and syringes: return/exchange or disposal. Specialized containers may be purchased that allow you to mail or drop off needles at designated private collection centers. For a list of companies that provide this service, contact the Coalition for Safe Community Needle Disposal at 800-643-1643 or online at www.safeneedledisposal.org.
Patients using sharps may also find assistance with exchange or disposal through their primary care physician and may want to ask their doctor’s office whether this service is offered.
Otherwise, in Frederick County, residents may place used needles and syringes inside a sturdy, rigid plastic container (not soft plastic, such as a milk jug, which might be punctured) with a narrow opening; good examples would include laundry detergent containers or bleach bottles. Mark the container “DO NOT RECYCLE”. When it is full, tape the container securely shut and place it in your household trash for regular disposal.
*It is important to note that this disposal information pertains only to household medical items. By law, businesses have different medical waste disposal criteria.