What to do with items that cannot be accepted

This guidance applies only to wastes generated by households. Businesses, including health care facilities, must follow their governing rules and regulations.

Cannot be accepted:

Household Needles/Sharps

Handle with Care! Skin punctures may transmit blood-borne infections.

Disposal Options:
  1. Sharps Collection Programs can be found here.
  2. Mail-in Sharps Containers (some pharmacies and websites sell sharps containers with mail-in labels, ensuring proper treatment and disposal. There is an added cost for this service).
  3. Proper Trash Disposal
  • Never put a container of sharps in with recyclables. Sharps are not recyclable and not only can they pose an infection risk to workers at recycling facilities, they can render whole batches of recyclables unusable.
  • Used needles/sharps should never be placed loosely in the trash or flushed down the toilet.
  • Use a sharps container purchased from a pharmacy or other source, or use a strong plastic container (HDPE plastic with #2 recycling symbol) with a screw-top lid. Used laundry detergent bottles work well. Never use paper or plastic milk jugs. They can puncture. Never use glass containers. They can break and make the hazard worse.
  • Containers of sharps should be clearly labelled as “Sharps” or "Biohazard Waste.”
  • Once filled, the container should be firmly sealed (tape the lid) to prevent spillage.
  • Store the sealed sharps container away from children and pets.
  • Place the sealed sharps container in the trash on the day it gets picked up or taken to a landfill.

Chemotherapy Drugs

If you’ve undergone treatment with radioactive pharmaceuticals for a disease like thyroid cancer, some wastes you produce may be contaminated with residual radiation. Certain wastes may have to be temporarily stored before placing them out with your trash. You and your caregiver should closely follow instructions provided by your doctor about waste disposal.

The Comprehensive Cancer Center Pharmacy at Saint Joseph Hospital accepts chemotherapy drugs for disposal. Call (303) 318-3490 for more information.

Personal Care Products

Most personal care products can be disposed in the trash, but some local household hazardous waste programs may accept these products along with household cleaning products. Contact your local program directly, or contact your city/county government for program contact information.

Thermometers and Other Mercury Containing Devices

Some local household hazardous waste programs will accept thermometers and other mercury containing devices. Contact your local program directly, or contact your city/county government for program contact information.

All Colorado Ace Hardware stores and other Colorado businesses participate in a program to recycle mercury-containing thermostats. Visit Thermostat-Recycle.org for a complete list of locations.
Also, Holy Cross Energy and Alpine Bank have teamed up to accept compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) for recycling at several locations in the Vail, Glenwood Springs and Aspen areas. Ace Hardware stores will accept them as well.

Medical Tools and Supplies

Some charities will accept medical tools and supplies in good, usable condition. Project CURE is one such charity. Call (303) 792-0729 for more information.

Bloody or Infectious Waste

Soiled bandages, dressings and disposable sheets should be placed in securely fastened plastic bags before being placed in household trash. Trash containing these potentially infectious wastes should be stored out of the reach of children and pets until it can be picked up or taken to a landfill.


Unused marijuana and marijuana-infused products that was obtained by an individual for recreational or medical use may be disposed by placing in household trash or taken to a landfill. The marijuana must be rendered unrecognizable and mixed with other items of trash. Place in the trash on the day it gets picked up or taken to a landfill.

Illicit Drugs

Contact your local law enforcement agency for guidance.

Empty Containers

Empty containers should be recycled, if possible. Check the lists of acceptable recyclables provided by your curbside recycling service or local recycling program. Non-recyclable items should be placed in household trash or taken to a landfill. Strike personal information (i.e. patient name and prescription number) from prescription pill bottles before recycling or trashing them.