Do you, or someone you know, use medications that are "self-injected?" Over the last several decades, the U.S. has seen marked increases in medical conditions requiring the use of needles, lancets, pen needles, etc. (often called "sharps").

In California, it is actually unlawful for any sharps waste to be put into your garbage or recycling containers, where they can end up in the landfill. Improper disposal of such devices can lead to serious health and safety threats to solid waste workers.

At Pacific Rim Recycling in Benicia and at the Davis Street Facility in San Leandro, where your recyclable materials are processed, there are regular occurrences of workers being stuck by used needles that have been carelessly (and illegally) dumped into recycling bins. Such needle-stick accidents have the potential to infect recycling sort-line workers with hepatitis, tetanus or even HIV.

Here in Central Contra Costa, we are lucky to have no-cost programs for residents to drop off their used sharps in -- Walnut Creek, Lafayette, Moraga, Orinda, Alamo, Danville, Rossmoor and other locations in central county have them. For even more convenience, there are mail-back programs that are available for a fee through Waste Management and other companies.

Even with these comprehensive disposal options, illegal disposal still persists. Used sharps are now turning up in bags of clothing, and other items, donated through the Central Contra Costa Solid Waste Authority's Reuse and Cleanup Days program. These bags of unwanted but still usable items are also sorted through by hand at the Pacific Rim Recycling facility. It's troubling to think that a person would toss their discarded needles into otherwise reusable materials, potentially putting others in harm's way.


Advertisement

To avoid possible sharps-related accidents from occurring, the Central Contra Costa Solid Waste Authority would like to encourage you to learn more about the programs that are available to their residents. Please visit www.wastediversion.org/app_pages/view/220 for more information.

If you have a question, comment or idea about current or future solid waste programs, please email them to lois@wastediversion.org