Needles, propane tanks and paint. How do you dispose of them?

We deal with the usual types of waste throughout our lives. Food scraps, an old piece of clothing, a shampoo bottle.

But every so often we run into an item that just doesn’t fit. A little voice in our head (or wise advice from a friend) tells us that this item needs to be handled in a different way.

These are some of the items that you always wondered how to dispose of.

Needles

Home injection needles are easiest to dispose of. As long as the needle is safely stored inside a puncture-resistant container it can be thrown into the trash. A sturdy plastic container could serve in a pinch, but commercial options are numerous and affordable.

Do not throw used needles in the garbage!

Do not put broken needles into the garbage! To help prevent accidental injury to children, cover up all sharp objects in your house with something that will also prevent small hands from being injured.
Use a needle-disposal receptacle, sharps disposal box, or an improvised container to store needles you want to throw away. Some people use an old coffee can – whatever is puncture proof works!

Where to safely dispose of needles

Here are just some of the places you might want to look:

  • Smaller boxes as well as lids for large food containers can be purchased from many pharmacies and many websites that sell medical supplies.
  • In most communities there is a needle-disposal program that provides free sharps containers to those who ask for them.
  • There are also needle-collection boxes that can be found in many communities.
  • If you work, then your employer might have a company-sponsored program to help you dispose of used needles.

The City of Calgary also offers several public disposal boxes and a Needle Safety Disposal program in cooperation with organisations such as Alpha House, Calgary Drop-in & Rehab Centre, and The Alex.

What if you find a needle?

But what to do if you find a needle in the open, and you want to safely dispose of it? If you find a needle and you’re comfortable picking it up, follow these steps:

  • You’ll need gloves, tongs, and a container to dispose of used syringes.
  • Put on the appropriate gloves, make sure the needle is pointed away from you, and use tongs or pliers to pick it up.
  • Put the needle in a container, with its tip down, and tape the lid shut.
  • Write the word “Needles” on a sticker in large print and put it to the outside of the container.
  • Don’t forget to sterilise your equipment after use!

You can dispose of a container with needles at these locations:

Local pharmacy (confirm it accepts needles first!)
Sheldon M Chumir Centre – Supervised Consumption Services (1213 4 St SW, Calgary)
Your garbage bin (safely stored inside a container)

If you are not comfortable picking up a needle, and you live in Calgary, you have several options:
Call the Alpha house at 403-796-5334 or email needle@alphahousecalgary.com between the hours of 7 a.m. – 12 a.m. (midnight).
You can also request a Calgary Fire Department response by calling 911 (for emergencies) or 403-264-1022 (for non-emergencies).

Have info on hand!

All of these services will require you to have at the ready:

  • Your full address
  • You name and a call-back number
  • Location of the needle
  • Number of the needles and other related items.

Pressurised tanks

Old propane tanks, empty aerosol cans, old fire extinguishers and anything else that might be pressurised require special handling and cannot be just thrown into the garbage.

These cylinders are combustible, explosive, or can leak if they are exposed to different temperatures, humidity, pressure, etc. or if a chemical reaction occur due to mixing of contents. These chemicals:

  • Can eat through materials.
  • Can cause a fire.
  • Are toxic or poisonous.

Chemicals can be explosive and/or reactive. They can release poisonous fumes when exposed to air, water, or other chemicals.

These are just some of the chemicals that can be found in pressurised containers:

  • Propane
  • Oxygen
  • Helium
  • Acetylene
  • Isocyanate resins
  • Nitrogen
  • Freon
  • All other compressed gases

Where to dispose of pressurised tanks in Calgary

A household Hazardous waste drop-off site is where you can dispose of standard barbecue tanks, small camping canisters, and butane canisters for free.

These sites include:

Designated City of Calgary Fire Department stations.

  • Vista Heights Fire Station #4 (1991 – 18 Avenue NE)
  • Varsity Fire Station #17 (3740 32 Avenue NW)
  • Lincoln Park/Garrison Green Fire Station #20 (2800 Peacekeepers Way SW)
  • Cedarbrae Fire Station #24 (2607 106 Avenue SW)
  • Country Hills Fire Station #31 (11955 Country Village Link NE)
  • Evergreen Fire Station #37 (2511 Eversyde Avenue SW)

Fire stations are open for drop-off seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Please note: Propane and helium tanks are accepted only from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

City landfill Throw ‘n’ Go area

  • East Calgary Landfill (68 Street and 17 Avenue SE)
  • Shepard Landfill (12111 Avenue & 68 Street SE)
  • Spyhill Landfill (69 Street and 112 Avenue NW)

Do keep in mind that Calgary landfill will only accept the gas canister for free. If you bring any other garbage fees will apply.

Don’t forget that many retailers accept your empty pressurised gas cylinder when you purchase a full cylinder!

You will NOT be able to recycle your vehicle gas cylinders. You will have to find a private contractor. If you have trouble finding one, contact Alberta Recycling Hotline for a list of contractors that may be able to help you.

How to transport an empty pressurised container

When transporting pressurised tanks it is important to follows some simple, but important safety rules:

  • Place them in a location where they will not be tampered with or damaged by the rest of the cargo.
  • Place your pressurised container upright and on a flat surface when transporting it

Household Hazardous Waste

Here is a great two part video explaining how to properly dispose of hazardous waste, and why you would want to:

 

Household hazardous waste are things like:

  • Paint
  • Batteries
  • Cleaning chemicals
  • Fluorescent bulbs
  • Automotive chemicals
  • Health care related products (mercury thermometers, etc…)
  • Garden and pest chemicals

 

Properly disposing of old paint

Paint can have a shelf life of over a decade if properly stored. This means that some of the paint that you are planning to dispose of can be put away for later use. Even if you are sure you will not be using the paint, there might be an option to donate old paint.

Never flush your old paint down the drain! It is bad for the environment, and it can damage the piping.

Once you are sure that you want to get rid of your old paint, you can take it to one of the CFD stations or Throw’n’Go locations. They will accept original cans or clearly labelled containers. This includes dried out paint and empty cans. 

At these locations you can also dispose of your old:

  • Alkyd, latex and oil-based paints
  • Lacquers, stains and varnishes
  • Paint thinners, strippers and solvents
  • Wood preservatives

The City will accept up to 20l of chemical per household. 

Where do I throw away my dangerous waste or trash?

If you are unsure if your waste belongs in the hazardous waste, check out What goes Where. a handy tool provided by the City of Calgary.

Here is a helpful map (courtesy of The City of Calgary) that can show you which location works best for you.

Relevant links

Household hazardous waste drop-off program

Needle Safety Disposal Program

What goes Where