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Tattooist waste disposal is anything that comes into contact with bodily fluids such as; blood, mucus, semen and plasma that cannot be sterilized.

You can’t throw bio-hazard materials into a regular waste bin, because then it could harm someone it comes in contact with at the waste processing facility, or end up in the water supply or on a beach somewhere. Medical waste must be discarded in a separate bag or canister marked clearly as a bio-hazard.

Tattooist Waste Disposal
sharps bin


Tattooist Waste Disposal

Needles of any kind must be discarded in a sharps container. A tattooist waste disposal sharps container is a plastic container, usually yellow, with a bio-hazard symbol on the outside.

Just like the units in a doctor’s surgery labeled “hazardous waste” the entire container is disposed of once it is full.

Things used by tattoo and piercing artists that qualify as hazardous waste (after use) that cannot be sterilized include (but are not limited to):

  • Tattoo needle sharps
  • Protective gloves
  • Tattooist waste disposal includes paper towels & disposables
  • Plastic protective covers (used to cover the tattoo machine, cord, soap bottles, etc.
  • Ink caps and leftover ink in caps
  • Tattooist waste disposal also includes Cotton swabs
  • Any leftover ointment removed for use

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Unethical Disposal What is the Worry?

Tattooist waste disposal products that are not disposed of properly end up in landfill, sewage treatment centers or other public places where people may unknowingly get injured.

People have even contracted infections and viruses such as hepatitis and HIV from these kinds of injuries.

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Even if you don’t have any viruses that you could infect others with, they don’t know that and may have to undergo months of testing as a result of the injury.

Except for the actual sharps on the end of a tattoo needle bar, anything metal can be sterilized in an autoclave and reused. This includes piercing needles, tapers, needle bars and tattoo machine tubes.

These days, more and more medical care is taking place in the home, outside of the hospital. As a result, people are often left wondering what to do with the waste it creates.

Is it okay to throw these things in the garbage? An example of this type of waste is medical “sharps.” Sharps are defined as anything that is pointy or sharp enough to puncture the skin.

Disposal of Sharps Waste What to Do

Once you are done using them, immediately place any sharps in an approved disposal container. These sharps containers are often available from your service provider.

If you do not have access to an approved tattooist waste disposal container, you may be able to use another type of puncture-proof container instead.

This container should also have a secure lid, not leak, and stand upright. Some bottles that are also frequently used for this purpose are rinsed out bleach bottles.

Keep your sharps container in a safe place where it will not tip over and spill and where children and pets cannot access it.

Get a new sharps tattooist waste disposal container when the old unit reaches 2/3 full.

Ask your local environmental officer what to do with your filled container. Some pharmacies may accept sealed sharps containers. If you need further help, you can call your local public health department, or search “sharps disposal” on the internet.Waste disposal Information

What Not to Do

Important issues to consider with waste.

  • Don’t throw sharps into the regular garbage waste containers
  • Do not attempt to burn or incinerate used sharps
  • Don’t flush sharps down the toilet
  • Do not handle or attempt to recap sharps used by another person
  • Do not try to remove the needle from a syringe yourself

Improper disposal of  sharps has become a serious public health concern as more and more medical care is being done outside the hospital setting. Even if you think that your used tattooist waste disposal needles do not pose a health risk to anyone else, we must all do our part to prevent accidental needle stick injury.

Using a proper sharps container to store used needles and disposing of that container in a safe way by using an approved company are the first steps to preventing this kind of injury.

Useful links and more information on disposal regulations.

Tattoo waste

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