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Wisconsin medical sharps collection program

The DNR has a new online registration form for sharps collection stations. See details below.

Wisconsin's sharps collection program is simple, flexible and voluntary and includes a variety of collection programs, from individual stations to large networks of stations. To protect waste handlers, the public and the environment, state law requires that discarded syringes, lancets and other sharps be kept separate from household garbage. Public education and low-cost, convenient sharps collection programs are the most effective ways to encourage proper disposal.

How to collect sharps from the public

A sharps collection station is a place that accepts containers of sharps from generators who generate less than 50 pounds of infectious waste each month. The station must provide the service on a non-profit and cost-only basis. No one is required to collect sharps.

Hospitals, clinics, doctors' offices, nursing homes, pharmacies, community health agencies, local governments, fire stations, diabetic support groups and others are all examples of potential sharps collectors. Although operators of sharps collection stations may choose to serve only their patients, customers or residents, the state encourages stations to make their service widely available.

Sharps collection stations are regulated under s. NR 526.09(5), Wis. Adm. Code [exit DNR]. The following resources have more specific details on how to set up a sharps collections station.

Registering a sharps collection station

Businesses, institutions or agencies that collect containers of sharps but do not generate infectious waste themselves, or that take in more than they generate, must register with the DNR as sharps collection stations. Registration is required to exempt the station from obtaining a storage facility license. Examples of businesses that must register include pharmacies, certain small clinics and visiting nurse services.

The DNR now has an online form for registering sharps collection stations.

If unable to register online, a station operator can send a letter to the DNR. See Sharps Collection: Requirements for Collectors (WA 807) [PDF] for more details.

Publications collectors may distribute to the public

The following publications are designed to help educate Wisconsin residents about proper sharps management.

Frequently asked questions about medical sharps

Is a sharps container in a public restroom a sharps collection station?

Sharps boxes in restrooms are not sharps collection stations. If you provide sharps boxes for guests and employees to use, you are considered a sharps generator instead. Follow the instructions for disposal in Basic Infectious Waste Requirements for Generators of Small Amounts (WA 815) [PDF].

Who can use the collection stations?

Both individuals and businesses which generate less than 50 pounds of sharps each month can use collection stations. Potential users include: diabetics and others who administer their own medications, home healthcare patients pet owners, farmers, small clinics (medical, dental and veterinary), schools, industrial first aid stations and group homes.

How much does it cost to collect sharps?

The main cost is for disposal, which varies depending on the volume collected and distance from the infectious waste treatment facility, but typically it is 30 to 60 cents per pound. Stations can offset costs by seeking funds from local governments, community organizations or private agencies. Operators may also want to pursue reduced transportation and disposal rates from waste haulers or donations of sharps containers from supporting organizations.

What must a collection station do with the sharps?

People who collect sharps must ensure the sharps are safely handled, stored and transported to an infectious waste treatment facility.

  • Be sure the sharps are in properly sealed and labeled containers. Refuse to take improperly contained sharps.
  • Never open sharps containers. Handle them safely and as little as possible.
  • Keep the sharps separate from other wastes, e.g., in a box or specified area within a room.
  • Store no more than 500 pounds of sharps at one time.
  • Remove waste at least every 90 days.
  • If you transport sharps waste, do so in an enclosed portion of a vehicle, e.g., in the trunk. If the vehicle is transporting less than 50 pounds of infectious waste per month every month, you don't need an infectious waste transportation license.
  • Transport the sharps only to another station, to a medical facility which will manage it properly or to a licensed infectious waste treatment facility.
  • You may also choose to arrange for a licensed infectious waste hauler [exit DNR] to transport the waste for you.
Last revised: Tuesday June 04 2019