Dispose of Needles and Syringes Safely


It’s important to dispose of used needles and syringes properly. Used needles and syringes can cause injury and spread infections, such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV. Please note that in Massachusetts it is illegal to dispose of needles, syringes, or lancets in the regular trash.

Disposal Drop Boxes 

Cambridge residents can deposit used needles and syringes into sharps disposal drop boxes at two locations in Cambridge. This drop-off option is for residents only and not for businesses.

CHA Windsor Street Care ​Center
119 Windsor Street, ground floor
Cambridge, MA | Map

The drop box is located in the lower lobby of the building, by the entrance to the ground floor offices. Check CHA’s website to see when the building is open to the public. 

Cambridge Polic​e Department
125 Sixth Street
Cambridge, MA | Map

You can anonymously deposit needles and syringes, as well as unused medications, at any time in the appropriate drop boxes located in the first floor lobby of the police station’s Records Unit. This area is to your right as you enter the lobby. 

How to Drop Off Used Needles and Syringes

  • Place the items in a sharps container or a 1-quart (or smaller) hard-sided plastic container with a lid, such as a laundry detergent, bleach, or soda bottle. Tape the container shut.
  • Put the containers into the drop box. Please don’t leave containers outside the sharps drop boxes. 
  • If your container is too large for the drop box, please visit the health department’s front desk located at 119 Windsor Street on the 2nd floor between 8:30 a.m.–2:00 p.m. If you have any questions, call 617-665-3800. Please leave a message and someone will return your call. 
  • Don’t put medications or other medical supplies in the sharps drop boxes. Visit our Dispose of Medication Safely page to learn more.  

Emergency Disposal 

If you find needles or syringes in public places (e.g., streets, sidewalks, parks, city buildings) in Cambridge, you can call the City’s Emergency Communications Center’s 24/7 non-emergency number at 617-349-3300. If possible, wait for Fire or EMS personnel to arrive so that you can help them locate the items. 

If the needles or syringes pose an immediate safety threat, call 911. 

If you wish to remain anonymous, you can:

Once a call, text, or email is received, the city’s Emergency Communications Department will dispatch the Fire Department or Pro EMS ambulance service to retrieve and dispose of the items.

Safety Tips

  • Avoid touching or handling needles or syringes found in public places. 
  • Remind children not to touch needles in parks and playgrounds.
  • If you are accidentally stuck by another person’s used needle or other sharp:
    • Wash the exposed area right away with water and soap or use a skin disinfectant (antiseptic) such as rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer. 
    • Seek immediate medical attention by calling your provider right away or going to your local hospital emergency department. Providers will check your immunization status and may begin preventative treatment.
  • Learn more about personal safety tips for disposal:  DO’s and DON’Ts: Safe Disposal of Needles and Other Sharps Used At Home, At Work, or While Traveling (FDA)

Updated: July 20, 2022