The Valley Resource Management group has launched a sharps mail-back campaign called Safety is the Point, providing free containers to people who are home users of injectable medications. Each year millions of Americans use needles, syringes, and lancets, also called sharps, to treat medical conditions at home. These sharps are important for the management of medical conditions in the home such as allergies, diabetes, and osteoporosis, but disposing of them after they are used can be a challenge and dangerous for solid waste professionals who may come into contact with them at landfills.
“If used sharps are placed in the household garbage, flushed down the toilet, or disposed of haphazardly in public places, they can pose a risk to the community,” said Pitkin County Solid Waste Manager, Cathy Hall. “Municipal solid waste workers are at particularly high risk of being stuck by sharps during the process of handling waste. People exposed to used sharps are at risk of contracting potentially life-altering diseases including HIV / AIDS or hepatitis C,” Hall said.
The State of Colorado currently recommends placing used sharps in a hard-sided plastic container, such as a detergent bottle, and place it in the trash. Solid waste professionals discourage this disposal method because once in the waste stream that bottle can become broken through the waste handling process, increasing the likelihood a person will come into contact with it.
“As soon as a 95,000-pound piece of landfill equipment or the compactor mechanism in the back of a trash truck comes into contact with that detergent bottle holding used sharps, it is almost a guarantee that bottle is going to break open,” said Hall. “One of the biggest fears of a solid waste worker is getting stuck by a used needle, which can expose that person to a potentially deadly disease or infection.”
Needle users can pick up a free mail-back container at various locations throughout the Roaring Fork and Colorado River Valleys. Pick-up locations for the free mail-back containers can be found at www.BeSharpsSafe.org.
“The hope is that we can educate home needle users on safer mail back disposal options, rather than placing the sharps in the trash,” said Hall “The goal is to protect the public and solid waste workers from a very scary situation of an unwanted needle stick.”
Valley Resource Management is an association of representative municipal and county governments, whose mission is to advance the practice of environmentally and economically sustainable management of solid waste in the Roaring Fork and Colorado River Valleys.
MEDIA CONTACT: Cathy Hall - Solid Waste Center Manager - 703-459-4080