Written by Laura Wakelam
07 Apr 2022

Disposable vs Reusable Sharps Containers

Never purchase a single use sharps container for your healthcare facility again. I know, it sounds wonderful doesn’t it! Sharpsmarts' reusable sharps and clinical waste containers eliminate the need to purchase and dispose of single-use sharps containers, delivering not only an immediate cost saving but also showing a lot of love for the environment! 33% of the volume of every sharps container is plastic that can be saved from incineration with a reusable system. Every year hundreds of thousands of tonnes of unnecessary waste from disposable plastic sharps containers is being incinerated – we think we can be better than this.


1 / Reusable sharps containers as an alternative

2 / What about the enviornmental impact

3 / Reusable vs. disposable sharps containers

4 / Sharps containers designed to put safety first 

Reusable sharps containers provide a safe, compliant and cost effective alternative

The benefits of Sharpsmarts’ reusable systems are extensive not only for the environment but for their impact on healthcare safety and clinical efficiencies: 

  • A superior, safety engineered design with tamper-proof security locks, overfill prevention mechanism, and protective safety tray eliminates the risk of contamination or sharps injury
  • Larger volume containers reduce pickup frequencies and associated sharps disposal costs – reducing disposal costs by 30%
  • You eliminate the cost of purchasing and disposing of plastic sharps containers!
  • No bags, no outer packaging, no assembly. Sharpsmarts’ system is fitted with a water-tight seal that prevents leakage and is UN approved and testing to ISO standard 23907-2:2019
  • Accessories enable the sharps containers to be securely mounted on a wall or workstop or to be moved on a simple access trolley to patient bedside, ANTT workstation, or point-of-use workstation for safe sharps disposal
  • Each container is robotically washed through a six-stage decontamination and sanitisation process, delivering a cleaner result than a brand new container! 

What about the environmental impact?

When a reusable container is filled, only the waste inside it is destroyed, lessening the environmental impact of discarded plastic being sent for incineration. Sharpsmart containers are hygienically washed through a vigorous robotic washing process which achieves the most significant bacterial load reduction in the industry, and once it undergoes a quality control check, it is returned to the hospital or facility for next use. A 2010 study carried out in a UK hospital documented a carbon emission reduction of 86% with the implementation of the Sharpsmart system. Each year, for every 100 occupied beds, the Sharpsmart reusable sharps container:

  • Reduces plastic waste by 3,175 kgs
  • Reduces cardboard waste by 326 kgs
  • Eliminates the manufacturing and landfilling of 4,691 disposable sharps containers

Whilst the concept of recycling is very 'green friendly', the process is not as simple as it appears and can result in a negative environmental impact due to the extensive process of decontamination, cleaning, and energy required to repurpose. A disposable container has twice the negative impact on the environment as they are not only utilising energy for treatment, but also adding to the volume of residual material that ends up being incinerated. Furthermore, for every disposable sharps container that is used, another new container must be manufactured as a replacement; a process which requires a completely new allocation of materials and energy resources. 

Reusable vs Disposable sharps containers

Whilst environmental impact is a strong deterrence against the use of disposable sharps containers, the stronger draw-card is safety. The simple truth is that no company can afford to put the depth of technology into a disposable sharps container that exists in the Sharpsmart and then throw it away – it would not be able to achieve price competitiveness. When Sharpsmart emerged into the healthcare industry in 1986 there was no reusable sharps container alternative. Needlestick injuries were rife in hospitals around the world, and new revelations about the contraction of HIV and other bloodborne pathogens from used needles were starting fresh conversation about the safety of injections and sharps disposal. The root cause of a significant volume of injuries was container-related, a fact which is now no surprise considering the poor design and flimsy construction of the sharps containers that existed on the market. 

Sharps containers designed to put safety first

Sharpsmart reusable sharps containers are designed with 13 safety features and stand in market solidarity with multiple peer reviewed studies documenting the dramatic needlestick injury reduction achieved in six countries. A study documented in the American Journal of Infection Control compared 28 hospitals, 14 of which converted to Sharpsmart containers and 14 of which retained their use of a disposable sharps container for sharps disposal. The results showed that sharps injuries increased in the 14 hospitals using the disposable containers, and in the controlled group that adopted the Sharpsmart system, disposal-related sharps injuries reduced by 57% and container-associated sharps injuries fell by 81%. 

So, when considering disposable vs. reusable sharps containers, there really is no contest. From both a safety and sustainability perspective, reusable containers are the right choice for any healthcare facility. 




Header Style: 
Laura Wakelam

Laura Wakelam

Chief Marketing Officer

Brand and Communications Curator of Sharpsmart global group of companies, Laura is a strong believer in cause-driven brand identity and honest storytelling