Safe Sharps Disposal

Keeping Waterloo Region neighbourhoods safe is a collective responsibility. Improperly discarded needles and harm reduction supplies found in our communities is a concern. In an effort to promote community safety, we and many city and community partners have implemented a variety of measures to address this concern.

How to pick up and dispose of a needle

Treat all needles and drug equipment as contaminated. 

  • Wear gloves (i.e. latex, rubber or leather gardening gloves). Gloves are meant to protect against fluid contamination, not punctures or cuts.
  • Use tongs, pliers or tweezers to pick up the needle. Be sure to clean and disinfect the pickup instrument afterwards.
  • Pick up the needle by the plastic end (syringe).
  • Do not try to recap used needles.
  • Point the needle tip away from your body. Be very careful not to poke yourself with the needle.
  • Put the sharps disposal container on a stable surface next to the needle. Do not hold the container in your hand while placing the needle inside.
  • Place the needle point down into the container. Do not force the needle into the container.
  • If you do not have a specialized sharps container, put the needle into a non-breakable, puncture-proof container with a lid (i.e. thick plastic bottle or tin can).
  • Close the container securely.
  • Find the nearest needle disposal location. Do not flush needles down the toilet or put them in the garbage or recycling box.
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after removal of gloves.

If a needle injury occurs, seek immediate medical attention.

For further information, please contact us at 519-575-4400.

Outdoor sharps disposal kiosks

The outdoor sharps kiosk program provides residents of Waterloo region with safe and convenient options for sharps disposal. The kiosks are secure, tamper-proof drop boxes and are for individuals and community workers to use to dispose of sharps. 

Commercial and clinic waste is not permitted in the sharps kiosks. Businesses or clinics must make private arrangements for disposal of their waste. 

Residents can consult the Region of Waterloo Waste Whiz to determine where to dispose of syringes safely.

Locations of outdoor sharps disposal kiosks in Waterloo Region:

Kitchener

  • 15 Charles Street West - Charles Street Terminal
  • 150 Duke Street West - Consumption and Treatment Services Site
  • 42 Stirling Lane - Ray of Hope Community Centre
  • 97 Victoria Street North - The Working Centre - Behind St. John's Kitchen (also accessible via Helt Lane)

Waterloo

  • Laurel and Peppler Street (on the Iron Horse Trail)
  • 99 Regina Street South - Region of Waterloo Public Health
  • 139 University Avenue West

Cambridge

  • 150 Main Street - Region of Waterloo Public Health
  • 26 Simcoe Street - The Bridges Shelter 
Peer needle recovery program

Working to Improve Neighbourhood Safety (WINS) is a pilot project to proactively find and dispose of harm reduction supplies found in the community in partnership with Region of Waterloo Public Health, Sanguen Health Centre and the Cities of Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo. 

The program builds on successes from the initial pilot, which took place in Cambridge. During this new phase of the project, it will expand into Kitchener and Waterloo and will continue to operate in Cambridge.

Through the program, people with lived or living experience of substance use are hired and trained to safely find and dispose of used needles and provide disposal containers to people they meet during their shift, focusing on areas most impacted by improper sharps disposal.

For more information, please visit The WINS Project on the Sanguen Health Centre website and watch the WINS Project video on YouTube.

To ensure the WINS program is meeting project objectives and to demonstrate community impact, data is collected and monitored on a regular basis. A data summary for WINS is released each quarter to share findings as they are available. See summaries below:

2022

2021

Pharmacies involved with the Health Steward program 
Used needles, syringes and glass stems must be kept out of the regular garbage and recycling bins. Sharps must be returned in a closed sharps container. To find a pharmacy where you can pick up a sharp container and drop off full sharps containers, visit Returning Medical Sharps page on the Health Products Stewardship Association website.  
Reporting needles found in the community

To report inappropriately discarded needles, contact your city or township directly.

  • City of Kitchener – 519-741-2345
  • City of Cambridge – 519-623-1340
  • City of Waterloo – 519-886-2310 or sharpscleanup@waterloo.ca
  • Township of North Dumfries – 519-632-8800
  • Township of Wilmot – 519-634-8444
  • Township of Woolwich – 519-669-1647
  • Township of Wellesley – 519-699-4611

You can also call 519-575-4400 and your call will be directed to the appropriate office. 

Working with people who use substances 

Region of Waterloo Public Health is mandated to provide the Needle Syringe Program. This program operates on the harm reduction principle of providing clients with an adequate amount of sterile needles to prevent needle sharing and needle reusing. The main goal of this program is to prevent the spread of communicable diseases, primarily HIV and Hepatitis C, and minimize the risks associated with substance use in the greater community.

Individuals receive information and support on how to reduce their harm associated with substance use, and are provided sharps containers and information on various disposal locations.

All Needle Syringe Programs in Waterloo Region provide sharps containers to individuals who use substances, and accept used supplies. For more information please visit Needle Syringe Program.

Additional resources 

Looking for sharp/needle containers

Individuals 

For individuals who inject medication such as insulin, containers are available at select pharmacies. Go to www.healthsteward.ca to find a participating pharmacy near you.

For other individuals, containers are available at the following locations:

  • Public Health and Emergency Services, Clinic, 150 Main Street, 1st floor, Cambridge (Mon to Fri 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.)
  • Public Health and Emergency Services, Clinic, 99 Regina Street South, 2nd floor, Waterloo – no services due to the Covid-19 pandemic
  • Needle Syringe Program partner agencies in Waterloo Region - check the Needle Syringe Program page for locations 
  • Select pharmacies - go to www.healthsteward.ca to find a participating pharmacy near you
Community cleanups 

You can pick up a sharps container for community cleanups at the following locations: 

  • Public Health and Emergency Services, Clinic, 150 Main Street, 1st floor, Cambridge (Monday to Friday 1 - 4 p.m.)
  • Public Health and Emergency Services, Clinic, 99 Regina Street South, 2nd floor, Waterloo – no services due to the Covid-19 pandemic
Business or doctor's office 

Businesses and health care providers must obtain sharps disposal containers and arrange for a disposal contract with a biomedical waste disposal company.

For more information about sharps disposal guidelines in Ontario, check The Management Of Biomedical Waste In Ontario

You can also contact a local biohazard waste disposal company. 

Non-profit agency (works with people who use substances) 
To see if your agency is eligible, send an email to Region of Waterloo Harm Reduction team at harmreduction@regionofwaterloo.ca. This email is monitored and someone will respond within 1-3 business days. 

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