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Regulatory Compliance

CVMA Guide to Cal/
OSHA Compliance


The Veterinarian’s Responsibility with Regard to Home-Generated Sharps Waste

In 2008, California law changed to make it illegal to dispose of home-generated sharps waste (HGSW) in the trash or recycling bin and requires that sharps waste be transported, in an approved sharps container, to a collection center, also called a consolidator.  (Section 118286 of the California Health and Safety Code [H&SC]).

Section 117671 of the H&SC defines “home-generated sharps waste” as hypodermic needles, pen needles, intravenous needles, lancets and other devices that are used to penetrate the skin for the delivery of medications derived from a household, including a multi-family residence or ranch.  HGSW can come from any animal or person.  So, if a practice gives a client hypodermic needles to use on an animal at home, those needles are classified as home-generated sharps waste.”


What Veterinarians Need to Do

The law currently states that veterinary practices may accept home-generated sharps waste, however it is not mandated by state law (H&SC Section 118147).

In addition, practices should check with City or County Public Health Departments which may have jurisdiction that supersedes the state.  Occasionally, local authorities will have more stringent ordinances for home-generated sharps waste take back which must be followed.

If local ordinances do not mandate that businesses take back home-generated sharps waste, then veterinary practices may set their own policy on whether or not they do so.  Practices may decide to take back the sharps and incur the added cost in doing so as a courtesy to clients.  The law does not expressly prohibit a business from charging to take back sharps, but the practice is discouraged by Public Health Departments.

Options for Clients

If a practice does not take back home-generated sharps waste, veterinarians should inform clients that it is illegal to place them in the garbage and refer them to approved public consolidation points for sharps disposal.  A link to state-approved consolidation points can be found on the on the CDPH website.

Veterinarians should advise clients that, to containerize sharps waste, they should do all of the following:

(a) Place all sharps waste into a sharps container.

(b) Tape closed, or secure tightly with lids, full sharps containers ready for disposal so as to preclude loss of contents.

(c) Store sharps containers ready for disposal 30 days or less – longer storage requires the written approval of the enforcement agency.

(d) Label sharps containers with the words “sharps waste” or with the international biohazard symbol and the word “BIOHAZARD.”

Veterinary practices may offer to sell sharps collection containers to clients so that clients.

For more information

Visit the California Department of Public Health Medical Waste Management Program website. 


Home-Generated Pharmaceutical and Sharps Waste-What You Need to Know and Tell Your Clients