Written by Megan Chamberlain
15 Jan 2021

COVID-19 Vaccine Waste Disposal Services. We're Ready.

This article was updated on Feb. 11, 2022. 

Sharpsmart is a global healthcare waste management innovator, partnering with facilities across the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States; and in this season, unlike no other, COVID-19 brought an opportunity for our teams to step up and provide flexible service, and quick, safe solutions to healthcare during a truly unpredictable time. With the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations, we are ready to support our partners in healthcare with safe vaccine waste disposal services and the highest safety-grade sharps containers to match. For more information about our COVID-19 vaccine disposal solutions, continue reading.


01 / How the Sharpsmart container was part of the first publically-administered vaccination 

02 / Our resuable sharps container in action during vaccinations 

03 / COVID-19 Vaccine Disposal Services

04/ The Changing Face of Covid-19 

A new hope began with Margaret

The entire Sharpsmart team have strived to be a pillar of support for the NHS during the pandemic. It was exciting for the entire Sharpsmart global family to see our flagship solution, the Sharpsmart reusable sharps container, play a small role in the first publicly administered vaccine.



“Margaret Keenan, 90, a former jewelry shop assistant, rolled up the sleeve of her “Merry Christmas” T-shirt to receive the first shot, and her image quickly became an emblem of hope and resilience.”

December 2020 – Source: NYTimes


Fun fact: In UK and Canada our Sharpsmart sharps containers are a vivid yellow and in the US they are colored ivory or red (depending on container opening preference). To learn more about our container types in the United Kingdom, click here.


Soon after we began their innoculations here in the UK,  Canada and the US quickly followed suit. We kicked off a turning point for global healthcare that gave us all a renewed sense of hope.

As COVID-19 vaccinations continue – we see a familiar solution

COVID-19 Vaccinations are well underway across North America and the UK with priority being given to healthcare workers and at-risk individuals. Due to our long-term partnership with some of the largest health systems across those countries, we have continued to see our reusable Sharpsmart container in the background of vaccination photos.

Note: As previously mentioned, in America our signature container, the Sharpsmart, is either ivory or red.

However as much as we are beaming with pride that our flagship sharps container is playing some small part in our nation's history, of course, the real champions of this moment are the COVID-19 vaccine and the millions of healthcare workers who have sacrificially put patient priorities ahead of their own since our country was first hit with this pandemic. Here are a few photos of our healthcare heroes being innoculated, with the Sharpsmart standing by.



“HSHS Wisconsin and Prevea Health, began administering the first round of COVID-19 vaccines allotted to them by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS).”

December 2020 – Source: wearegreenBay.com




“Distribution of COVID-19 vaccines began today at AdventHealth Daytona Beach. The location joins AdventHealth Orlando and AdventHealth Celebration as a distribution site for frontline health care workers in AdventHealth’s Central Florida division.”

December 2020 – Source: AdventHealth Central Florida LinkedIn




“The first COVID-19 vaccinations are being given in New Jersey Tuesday, with the first recipient a nurse, Maritza Beniquez, who got the shot at University Hospital in Newark.”

December 2020 – Source: ABC7NY




“Team members at Advocate Sherman Hospital and sites across their system have started receiving the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine this week. To date, more than 30,000 Advocate Aurora Health team members in Illinois and Wisconsin have received the first dose of the vaccine.”

January 2021 - Source: Advocate Health Care LinkedIn


Meanwhile, in the UK... the Sharpsmart met the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.



"Nurse Susan Cole received the Oxford vaccine at Chase Farm Hospital in north London in front of Boris Johnson." 

January 2021 – Source: ITV.com

COVID-19 Vaccination Disposal Services

As healthcare communities continue COVID-19 vaccine administrations, Sharpsmart is here and prepared to support with COVID-19 vaccine disposal services and available to answer any questions around correct compliant disposal. 

Some recent FAQs around COVID-19 Vaccine Waste Disposal have been:

What containers do COVID-19 vaccine contaminated sharps or residual vaccines belong in?

For syringes that contain trace amounts, less than 3%, of the vaccine - it should be disposed of in a sharps container. We recommend our Sharpsmart container – a reusable sharps bin system that enables hands-free disposal and makes the contents of the container irretrievable.  

For bulk waste or vials of vaccine, it should be disposed of in non-hazardous pharmaceutical container. We recommend our Sharpsmart Pharmaceutical container – another tamperproof system that meets the highest irretrievability standards and ensures the protection of safety and staff.


Is Sharpsmart able to collect COVID-19 Vaccine waste?

Yes, Sharpsmart is a certified sharps and pharmaceutical waste hauler, and per regulatory guidelines is able to not only collect and transport COVID-19 vaccine waste and contaminated sharps, but also able to provide the industry's leading security-designed hands-free containers for safe disposal of partially used syringes, vials or waste resulting from COVID-19 vaccinations. All of our drivers, operational and clinical-support staff are equipped with appropriate PPE and trained on facility-level protocols when it comes to container installation or waste pickups, ensuring the highest standards of safety and infection control are achieved.  


Is Sharpsmart equipped to handle large waste volumes? 

Throughout the height of the Covid-19 pandemic and its waves of variants, Sharpsmart has provided waste management guidance, products, and services that ensure the safe disposal of waste produced from mass vaccination sites to disposal of personal PPE, masks, and the advent and widespread use of home-based testing kits.

Home based rapid lateral flow testing kits have grown increasingly popular for Covid-19 testing purposes, especially in the wake of variants that have followed. Additional guidance for citizens disposing of such waste is important. 

The Changing Face of Covid-19

According to the National Health Service, approximately 116 million vaccinations have been given to inhabitants of England as of the end of January 20221. While massive vaccination sites have slowly faded to primarily localised pharmacies, health departments, and private physician practices, the waste disposal recommendations for packing and components of the Covid-19 vaccine processes still apply. However, the surge in home-based Covid-19 testing for residents throughout England present concerns regarding safe and compliant disposal of those kit components as well as used testing swabs.

What do home-based users do with such waste? According to the latest guidance, home-based users of testing kits and their components are to treat rapid lateral flow tests waste as general waste, whether results on swabs come back negative or positive. This is due to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) stating that these tests ‘do not present an increased risk when compared to personal hygiene waste.2 Rules applicable to care homes, hospitals, home care scenarios, hospitals, or primary care providers differ slightly.

For disposal of home-based rapid lateral flow kits, guidelines are to separate the kit items. For example, the test strip, swab, sachet, and extraction tube from any potentially recyclable materials such as the kit cardboard packaging, tube holder, and instructions. If anyone in the home tests positive, it is the responsibility of the homeowners to double-bag waste and keep it separate from other household waste for 72 hours prior to disposal in usual rubbish bins outside the home.

Rapid lateral flow kits and their waste from schools or from locations that are not registered healthcare facilities for NHS Test and Trace services can be managed as black bag waste, including the entirety of the test kit and tools therein. It is the duty of care for such facilities to ensure that such waste is collected and dealt with by licensed waste contractors. Rapid lateral flow kits used at registered facilities is also considered non-hazardous offensive or clinical waste and is NOT to be placed in orange bags or containers. 

What about masks waste?

Private citizens and home-based used masks are to be disposed of in a black waste bin at work or at home, or can be disposed of in a litter bin when outside. They are NOT to be placed in recycling bins, according to DEFRA. However, if self-isolating due to a positive result, guidance suggests double-bagging the masks and storing them for approximately 72 hours prior to placing them in a black bin for disposal.

DEFRA does suggest that businesses provide extra bins designed specifically for disposal of PPE and face coverings as needed, especially in locations such as pharmacies, where Covid-testing takes place. Disposable PPE and face coverings can be disposed of in yellow bags or containers with the black stripe for offensive waste if available.


For more information about our COVID-19 Vaccine Disposal Services or to reach out to us to discuss service setup, click here.



Header Style: 
Megan Chamberlain

Megan Chamberlain

Compliance and Digital Solutions Specialist

With a little bit of knowledge about a lot of things and a quick wit, Megan was the recipient of the Sharpsmart Pun-Master Award 2017 and is the go-to girl for all things compliance.