Top Tips for Proper Dental Carpule Disposal


As a dental professional, you have a lot to worry about. The last thing you want to deal with is fines and regulatory plans of correction regarding your dental waste. The source? You put your trash in the wrong bin. Or didn’t empty the bin fast enough. Or you are not practicing proper dental carpule disposal practices. You get the idea. Between sharps waste, regulated medical waste, dental mercury, pharmaceutical waste, radiological waste, electronics waste, and patient information, it’s a lot to handle.

How to Dispose of Anesthetic Cartridges (Dental Carpules)

One of the most common questions asked today about dental waste is, “Are used dental carpules considered medical waste, pharmaceutical waste, hazardous waste, or trash?

The answer depends on the condition of the used carpule:

Carpules containing visible blood or broken

Treat carpules that contain visible blood or broken as sharps medical waste. Place them in a sharps container.

Carpules containing residual anesthetic

Place carpules that contain residual anesthetic in a container labeled as pharmaceutical waste. Transport these containers to a waste processor for incineration. Why not the sharps container? Medical waste is first autoclaved and then disposed. The pharmaceutical waste does not break down and will mix with the wastewater produced during the autoclave process. This can have a negative environmental impact unless properly destroyed by incineration.

Empty, unbroken carpules

Empty, unbroken carpules that contain no aspirated blood or trace pharmaceuticals are not technically considered medical or pharmaceutical waste, but many offices are more comfortable placing these carpules in a puncture-resistant container for employee and waste-worker safety.

Always check with your local and state regulations regarding pharmaceutical waste and your specific classification as a waste generator, because your state’s generator categories can be different than the federal categories.

HealthFirst has the Right Solutions for Dental Carpule Disposal

No matter the condition of your used carpules, HealthFirst offers the right service to safely contain and transport your sharps medical waste and pharmaceutical waste to the waste processor for proper disposal and destruction.Carpule-Segregation-Infographic_500

Treat any carpule that contain visible blood or broken as sharps medical waste. Place these carpules in one of our puncture-resistant sharps containers, provided with every Sharps Management mail-back disposal product.

We recommend placing all other carpules in our puncture-resistant 2 gallon container labelled for pharmaceutical waste. This container is provided with every 2 Gallon Pharmaceutical Waste Management mail-back product. This postage-paid mail-back container will be properly transported to a waste processor for incineration

Have any More Questions About Dental Waste?

Contact a HealthFirst Compliance Counselor to discuss how our mail-back dental waste disposal products can help your practice stay compliant while saving you money.

Dr. Donald Cohen, a trusted figure and key opinion leader, has been a licensed and practicing dentist for over 30 years. Additionally, Dr. Cohen has 20 years of teaching experience at Columbia University SDOS, and 20 years as an Attending Dentist at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. With his many years of experience in the field and in the classroom, “Dr. Don” is an expert in the areas of dental compliance, regulations, and best practices.


  1. unused lidocaine/septocaine with epi typically has a ph greater than 2. therefore, it is not considered hazardous waste. also, the epa does not consider this hazardous waste since there is more than one active ingredient. if something is not considered hazardous waste, why can’t it be disposed of in the regular trash/sink/drain??

    • Thank you for your reply Dr. Farber,
      Regarding unused lidocaine/septocaine with epi, it’s less to do with the hazardous classification and more to do with the environmental impact that unused medications is creating in our waste waters (by placing it down the drain) and our landfills (by going in the trash). The EPA is encouraging all healthcare offices to properly dispose of all unused pharma waste in containers that are incinerated instead of autoclaved and/or landfilled.


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