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What do you do with used needles? Don’t do this one thing!

We recently asked the Diabetic South Africans community what they do with their needles… Take a look and see what they said.

Research shows that South Africans mostly don’t know what to do with their insulin pen needles after they’ve used them – 88% of the people in this study threw them in the dustbin and there’s a need for easily available sharps disposal units. So we thought we should ask BD for some expert guidance on safe disposal.

How should South Africans dispose of needles?

Used needles are considered medical waste, specifically sharps waste. It’s important that needles are not simply discarded into the dustbin with normal household waste.

Once you’ve used a needle, you should place it in a sealed, puncture-proof, clearly marked container. When this container is full, it can be returned to the pharmacy where you bought them so it can be emptied.  It can also be taken to a clinic or hospital with a sharps disposal facility. The pharmacy will then dispose of the needles in a safe manner, to reduce the risk of needlestick injuries.

Where should South Africans dispose needles?

The needles can be disposed in a sharps container, or any sealed, puncture-proof container that is clearly marked.

how to dispose of insulin pen needle
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Why can’t you just throw them away in the dustbin?

Incorrect disposal can lead to needlestick injuries in unsuspecting people who handle waste such as garbage removers, garbage pickers and anyone else handling domestic waste.

Needles that are simply thrown away in a dustbin could potentially end up being disposed of in municipal landfill sites, which could lead to the contamination of groundwater.

Did you know?

Before you dispose of your needles, you can also use the BD Safeclip to clip the sharp ends off. It’s available at any large corporate or independent pharmacy, or online here.

More information about good injection technique

This is part of a series on injection technique offered by BD.

This article was brought to you with unconditional scientific support by BD.

Disclaimer: The medical information on this website is not advice and should not be treated as such. You must not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you have any questions about your medication, please consult your doctor.


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Sweet Life is a registered NPO/PBO (220-984) with a single goal: to improve diabetes in South Africa. We are funded by sponsorships and donations from aligned companies and organisations who believe in our work. We only share information that we believe benefits our community. While some of this information is linked to specific brands, it is not an official endorsement of that brand. We believe in empowering people with diabetes to make the best decisions they can, to live a healthy, happy life with diabetes.