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Needle Access and Needle & Medication Disposal

What is the Expanded Syringe Access Program (ESAP)?

The Expanded Syringe Access Program (ESAP) is a public health program in New York State that started in 2001 and became permanent in 2009. It allows certain places like pharmacies and healthcare centers to give or sell clean syringes to people 18 years and older without needing a prescription. ESAP’s goal is to lower the risk of diseases including HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C. These diseases can be a result of sharing needles. ESAP also partners on education to avoid overdoses, getting help for substance use disorders, and safe needle disposal. 

Find a Syringe Access & Exchange Program near you or call or call (716) 858-7695.

Why is it Important to Safely Dispose of Needles/Syringes and Medications?

Safe disposal of needles and medications is crucial to prevent potential harm to people, pets, and the environment.  Used needles may carry blood-borne illnesses, and medications may get in the wrong hands, posing significant health risks if not disposed of properly. It is important that needles/syringes are stored in puncture-proof containers such as a bleach or laundry detergent bottle and taken to designated locations for safe disposal. This protects sanitation workers and others from accidental needlestick injuries, reducing the risk of infection. ESAP also protects the environment by ensuring that used syringes are treated as regulated medical waste when properly disposed of in hospitals, nursing homes, and designated collection sites.

Medication and Needle/Syringe DisposalWhere Can I Dispose my Needles/Syringes in Erie County and Can I Include my Medications?

There are many places in Erie County where you can safely dispose unwanted needles/syringes and medications. These can include prescription, over-the-counter, and illicit medications and medical waste. When not properly disposed, these items pose a hazard to our community and environment. They can cause harm to children, pets, and others who may encounter them. 

Individuals can visit any of the sites below to properly dispose of needles/syringes and medications, no questions asked.

How Can I Dispose of Needles/Syringes Safely at Home?

As a last resort, follow these instructions for putting medications in the trash:

  • Mix medications (do not crush tablets or capsules) with water and then add salt, ashes, dirt, cat litter, coffee grounds, or another undesirable substance to avoid accidental or intentional misuse of drugs by people and animals.
  • Do not conceal discarded drugs in food.
  • Place all medications in an outer container, such as sealable bag, box, or plastic tub to prevent discovery and removal from the trash. Seal the container with strong tape.
  • Dispose of drugs as close to your trash collection day as possible to avoid misuse and/or misdirection.

Sharps Container

To safely dispose of needles at home, use a puncture-resistant container such as a plastic laundry detergent or bleach bottle, labeled "Contains Sharps." Place used syringes and needles in the bottle, screw the top on tightly. It is important to avoid using containers that may easily break or spill. Be careful not to include these containers with recyclable plastics. This helps prevent accidental needle exposures in the community. The ESAP program emphasizes responsible needle disposal to protect individuals, animals, communities, and the environment. 

Order free sharps containers here


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