The Ontario Sharps Disposal Program: Where Can You Find Sharps Containers?

March 9, 2023

Sharps, such as needles, syringes, and lancets, are commonly used for medical purposes but can pose a significant risk to public health if not disposed of properly. That’s why the Ontario Sharps Disposal Program is crucial in ensuring the safe and proper disposal of sharps in the province.

Since promoting health and safety in Toronto and Canada is our priority, this blog post will provide all the information you need to find sharps containers across Ontario and dispose of your sharps safely, with ease, and in no time

No more fumbling around trying to find a proper place to get rid of your sharps – we’ve got you covered!

First Things First: What are Sharps & Why are They Dangerous?

Sharps are medical instruments that can puncture and cut through skin, potentially causing serious injury or infection. A sharp is defined as any device designed to pierce your skin or the skin of your companion animal. Examples of sharps include:

  •       needles,
  •       syringes,
  •       lancets,
  •       razor blades,
  •       other medical equipment with sharp edges.

Sharps are commonly used by people with medical conditions like diabetes, HIV, and hepatitis. These items can pose a serious risk to public health if they are not disposed of properly, as they can transmit infectious diseases and cause injury. Improper sharps disposal can lead to accidental needlesticks or cuts, exposing individuals to blood-borne infections and pathogens such as HIV and Hepatitis C and B.  

Additionally, individuals unaware of the dangers can pick up discarded sharps, such as children or waste collectors, leading to further risks to public health. This is why disposing of your sharps safely and responsibly is essential.

Protecting Public Health: What is the Ontario Sharps Disposal Program?

The Ontario Sharps Disposal Program (OSDP) or Sharps Collection Program (OSCP) is an essential public health initiative that helps ensure the safe disposal of used needles and other sharps.

This program is designed to protect individuals, communities, and the environment from the potentially serious health risks associated with improperly disposed of sharps. The program also provides education on the safe disposal of sharps and works to reduce the amount of sharps waste generated in Ontario.

How Does It Work? Benefits of the Ontario Sharps Disposal Program

The Ontario Sharps Disposal Program provides individuals with a safe and convenient way to dispose of their used sharps – it ensures anyone can obtain a sharps container free of charge from participating pharmacies, health care providers, or community organizations. Once the container is full, it can be returned to a participating disposal location.

Not only does this program protect individuals and communities from the health risks associated with improperly disposed of sharps, but it also helps protect the environment. By providing safe disposal options, the Ontario Sharps Disposal Program also helps prevent sharps from ending up in landfills, where they can pose a risk to sanitation workers and potentially contaminate the soil and water supply.

Overall, the Ontario Sharps Disposal Program is a crucial initiative that helps protect public health and the environment. If you use sharps in your medical treatment, make sure to take advantage of this program and dispose of your sharps safely and responsibly.

Where Can You Find Sharps Containers in Ontario? 

Safety and biohazard sharps containers can be found in various locations across Ontario, including pharmacies, hospitals, clinics, and community health centres. 

For example, many pharmacies, such as Everest Pharmacy, have non-breakable, puncture-proof containers available for public use. Hospitals and clinics may have sharps containers in their waiting areas or restrooms, while community health centres may have sharps containers in their harm reduction programs. 

Whatever your location, there is likely a sharps container or an institution that offers one for free nearby, promoting community safety.

Where to Return Sharps Containers

Now that you know where to get sharps containers, you’re probably wondering: Where can I dispose of sharps containers? With numerous drop-off locations at community pharmacies, public health units, harm reduction sites, Sharps Disposal Units and outdoor needle drop boxes throughout the region, proper sharps container disposal has never been easier. 

And here’s the best part: finding a safe sharps disposal site near you is as easy as a click of a button. Just search for the nearest needle disposal location in your area online. Don’t let improper sharps disposal put you and your community at risk – take advantage of the Ontario Sharps Disposal Program and dispose of your sharps safely and responsibly.

What Are Sharp Containers and What Do They Look Like? 

Before you head to your local pharmacy or other sharps disposal-friendly location with your used needles and other sharps, you need to get a container with adequate safety features, known as a sharps container, to transport your sharps – a rigid bin with a tight lid specifically designed for safe disposal of sharps and other harm reduction supplies.

When it comes to sharps disposal, safety is key, and gloves won’t cut it as they are designed to protect from fluid contamination but not punctures or cuts. That’s why sharps containers are made with the toughest materials – rigid, puncture-resistant plastic or metal with leak-resistant sides and bottom

And let’s not forget the lid – tight-fitting and puncture-resistant, with an opening big enough for your sharps but not big enough for your hand to sneak in. The sharps disposal container is labelled with a universal biohazard symbol.

If you show up at the pharmacy with loose sharps in your hand, you’re risking injury and contamination. But if you use a designated sharps container, you’re taking a big step towards responsible and safe disposal, as it’s designed to securely hold your sharps and prevent any accidental pokes or spills.

How to Use Sharps Containers: Tips for Safe and Effective Handling

Using sharps containers is pretty straightforward. When you’re ready to dispose of your used sharps, simply place them into an approved (1.4L or 4.5L) yellow biohazard sharps container free of charge from your pharmacist, making sure to avoid overfilling or forcing the sharps into the container. 

When it comes to safely disposing of your used needles and other sharps, there are a few things you need to know. 

  • First off, never ever bend, clip, break or recap your used sharps – that’s a recipe for disaster. Instead, hold the needle tip outward and carefully place it into an approved container. 
  • Never reuse a sharps container or attempt to empty its contents, as this can lead to accidental needlesticks or other injuries. In case of accidental puncture wounds or needle injury, immediately seek medical attention.
  • Be sure not to fill the sharps container beyond the indicated fill line on the outside of the container. This will ensure that the container remains safe and effective, protecting you and your community from the risks of improperly disposed of sharps.

No Sharps Container? Alternatives to Proper Sharps Disposal in Ontario

If you can’t find a sharps container in your area, don’t panic – there are still temporary alternatives to proper sharps disposal. For example, if you’re wondering how to dispose of needles, you can use a make-shift needle disposal box – a puncture-proof, sealable container, such as a plastic bottle or metal can, and securely seal it to temporarily store your sharps until you can find a proper disposal container.

Whatever option you choose, remember to handle sharps with utmost care and take steps to protect yourself and others from potential harm.

What Happens to Sharps Waste After Disposal?

Your sharps and needles have served their purpose, but what’s next? What happens to medical waste like used needles deposited into sharps containers? Sharps waste disposal is a serious matter in Canada. As a country that values public health and safety, it’s crucial that we dispose of sharps in a way that minimizes the risk of contamination and injury. 

From the moment you hand them over at the pharmacy, the OSCP takes over, ensuring that your sharps are handled in a way that protects public health and the environment. All sharps and needles are disposed of according to provincial regulations, using specialized processes tailored to their specific properties. Biomedical sharps are treated with high-pressure steam sterilization, while cytotoxic sharps are disposed of using high-temperature incineration.

This disinfection process can be achieved through various methods, including autoclaving, grinding, or incineration. Autoclaving, in particular, is the commonly used process that utilizes intense heat and pressure to sterilize sharps waste effectively. Inside an autoclaving machine, sharps waste is subjected to high-pressure steam at temperatures of over 120 degrees Celsius for a specific period of time. This process effectively destroys any harmful microorganisms, rendering the waste safe for disposal.

It’s a fascinating process highlighting the importance of proper hazardous waste disposal in Canada. By using cutting-edge technology like autoclaves, we can minimize the risk of contamination and injury, keeping our communities safe and healthy. So next time you dispose of your sharps, take a moment to appreciate the incredible technology that goes into keeping our environment safe!

Safeguard Your Community: Proper Sharps Disposal in Ontario is Everyone’s Responsibility

Proper sharps disposal is an essential part of maintaining a healthy and safe community in Ontario, Canada, as improper disposal of sharps can pose serious health risks to individuals and the environment. By following the proper procedures and using sharps containers, we can help minimize these risks and keep our communities safe.

Whether you’re a healthcare professional, sharps user, or simply a concerned citizen, proper sharps disposal is a collective responsibility. So, let’s all do our part to safeguard our communities, educate others on the importance of safe sharps disposal, and work together to create a safer and healthier Ontario for all. Together, we can make a difference.

Join the Ontario Sharps Disposal Program today! Visit our Everest Whole Health pharmacy in the heart of Toronto, Ontario, whenever you need to get free sharps containers or dispose of your sharps and help us protect Canada’s public health. Have any questions or concerns? Feel free to contact us or book an appointment anytime– we’re at your service.


Can I Take My Sharps Bin to the Pharmacy?

Yes! The Ontario Sharps Disposal Program encourages the safe disposal of sharps containers by allowing you to return them to participating pharmacies across the province, including Everest Whole Health pharmacy.

What Should Be Done When a Sharps Container is Full?

When a sharps container is full, it should be sealed and disposed of properly. You can return it to a participating pharmacy or contact your local health department for guidance on how to dispose of it safely.

What is a Biohazard Sharp Container?

A biohazard sharp container is a type of sharps container that is specifically designed for the safe disposal of biological and hazardous waste materials that may be contaminated with potentially infectious pathogens.


Why Do Sharps Containers Expire?

Sharps containers expire to ensure that they remain effective and safe to use over time. This helps to prevent leakage or other issues that could compromise the safety of those handling and disposing of the sharps.

Do All Used Needles Go in Sharps Containers?

Yes, all used needles should be disposed of in a sharps container to ensure safe handling and disposal of potentially hazardous materials.

About the Author: Remtulla Kumail

Hi there, my name is Kumail Remtulla and I'm a pharmacist with over 10 years of experience in both the UK and Canada. I grew up in Toronto, Ontario and decided to pursue my pharmacy degree in the UK back in 2004. After graduating, I worked for Boots UK for 5 years before moving back to Toronto in 2015. Once back in Canada, I completed the pharmacy bridging program and continued working as a pharmacist.