Updated "sharps" definition


Syringes without needles are no longer a "sharp."

The University’s sharps definition has changed. The revised definition means that syringes without needles are no longer considered a sharp and do not have to be placed in a red sharps container after use. Instead, do the following:

  • Collect and package syringes without needles as laboratory glass/plastic, either biohazardous or non-hazardous depending on what materials they were used with.
  • Certain plastic syringes have fine tips that could puncture a plastic bag; check the Sharps and Lab Glass webpage for detailed instructions on packaging lab glass and plastic.
  • Use our Packaging Sharps and Lab Glass poster for quick guidance.

If you are using a syringe with a needle, do not remove the needle to dispose of the syringe separately. Always dispose of needles (including syringes with needles) in a sharps container promptly after use.

EH&S updated the following resources with the new sharps definition:

Why did the sharps definition change?

EH&S and the UW Infectious Waste Committee updated the definition based on changes to Oregon State sharps regulations because we ship sharps waste to Oregon. Oregon no longer considers a syringe without a needle to be a sharp, and neither Washington State (Chapter 70.95K) nor the Seattle Municipal Code (SMC 21.43) include syringes without needles in their sharps definitions.


Contact an EH&S biosafety officer at ehsbio@uw.edu or 206.221.7770 for assistance.