Sharps Containers

Key Procurement Guidelines and Considerations

  1. Contact your sharps waste disposal company and inquire if your current containers are reusable or disposable.
  2. If your disposal service uses reusable sharps containers (or you find a service that provides that option) questions to consider:
    • Does the vendor provide reporting on volumes and costs associated with tracking sharps generation and avoided landfill volumes?
    • Does the vendor provide environmental metrics, e.g. green house gas emissions and landfill waste avoidance?1
    • Does the vendor participate in transportation efficiency programs to reduce transportation related emissions and associated costs?1
    • And additional needs specific to your clinic!

Gather information from multiple vendors and chose the reusable option that best suits your needs!

Those red bins in every corner of your practice collecting sharps waste – do you know if they are reusable or disposable? By switching to reusable sharps containers, you can significantly reduce costs and eliminate waste associated with single-use sharps containers, while adhering to the rigorous safety and biosecurity measures in place as reusable sharps containers are significantly less expensive1. Reusable sharps containers are robust and with effective inspection and repair, they may last several decades2, drastically reducing the waste associated with single use containers. One study conducted at Loma Linda University Health found switching from disposable to reusable sharps containers eliminated 50.2 tonnes of plastic and 8.1 tonnes of cardboard from the sharps waste stream, diverting 31.8 tonnes from the landfill and 18.4 tonnes from incineration2. 

A factor that influences the degree of reduction to greenhouse gas emissions with reusable sharps container is transportation. Studies support that large transport distances between manufacturer, user and processing facilities can impact the carbon footprint2,3, and therefore it is advisable when choosing a sharps disposal service as close in proximity to your practice as possible. 

Relevant Certifications: 

  • None 

Buyer Beware 

This topic can be confusing. Here we are focusing on the sharps disposal container – the red bins scattered throughout your practice that you throw your needs out in after they have been used. We are not discussing reusing sharps or syringes.  

Additional Resources

For more in depth procurement considerations and guidelines, click here


1. Sustainability Roadmap for Hospitals: Switch to Reusable Sharps Containers.

2. McPherson, B., Sharip, M. & Grimmond, T. The impact on life cycle carbon footprint of converting from disposable to reusable sharps containers in a large US hospital geographically distant from manufacturing and processing facilitiesPeerJ 7, e6204 (2019).

3. Grimmond, T & Reiner, S. Impact on carbon footprint: a life cycle assessment of disposable versus reusable sharps containers in a large US hospital. Waste management & research 30(6): 639-642 (2012).


SAVE Veterinary Procurement Guide Copyright © 2022 by Malea McGimsey; Caroline Kern-Allely; Tiera McAdam; Val Cortes; Colleen Duncan; and Maddi Funk. All Rights Reserved.

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