Dear Recyclebank: I’m a diabetic and am wondering: Can I recycle any or all of the components of my blood-testing kit? –Michel
Dear Michel: We appreciate your desire to try to recycle all the materials you can. However, the nature of blood-testing kits prevents much of it from being recycled. The only portions of diabetes blood-testing kits that you can recycle from home are those that never come into contact with blood. Because it is impossible to safely and cost-efficiently determine if a loose syringe has been contaminated by a bloodborne pathogen, you should never attempt to recycle any part of a syringe or lancet (the metal needle, shaft, or plunger) even an unused one.
From home, it is safe for you to recycle the paper box your testing strips come in with your other paper recycling. You can recycle broken or outdated electronic meters at e-waste drop-off centers and during special collections. Excess testing strips themselves can often be sold to third parties as long as they are not expired. In theory, you should be able to recycle the polypropylene caps that shield your syringes wherever bottle caps (which are also made of polypropylene and are approximately the same size) are accepted. As always, be sure to check with your recycling center or waste hauler before you attempt to recycle these caps; you don’t want to waste your time and their resources unnecessarily. As for the syringes and lancets, you should never try to recycle any part of them.
Sharps should never be thrown loosely in the trash or recycling bin, as they could easily prick people or pets at home, as well as sanitation workers who are doing the waste collection and processing. Most areas have laws dictating how to dispose of sharps. In California, for example, it is illegal to dispose of sharps in the trash, even if you place them within a sturdy plastic jug. To find a location to dispose your needles visit Safe Needle Disposal.