Never put a needle in a recycling bin!

Recycle for Norfolk have published an interesting news item with this title, emploring poeople to keep used needles out of the recycling system.

Hypodermic needle in drinks canThis is vitally important – the dangers of a stray needle are well known to us, and in more practical terms a carelessly discarded needle can bring the picking line of a recycling operation to a standstill.

Experience from recycling operations suggests that most problems arise when someone dumps a whole container of used sharps into the recycling waste. This might be a sharps bin, which should be sealed and easily recognisable, or some impromptu container such as a margarine tub.

Evidence suggests that these are discarded by patients receiving insulin or other injectable therapies. The fault lies in training, of the patients, and perhaps the management of a more suitable disposal route that is nonethless far from convenient or completely impractical such that the easy, if inappropriate, option is to loose the sharps into the recycling bin.

More problems occur on picking lines, kerbside collections and litter picking from sharps inside drinks containers. These may be plastic bottles of drinks cans, each thin walled and prone to penetration. Drinks cans seem to be the preferred ‘disposal route’ for addicts. Perhaps placing used needles out of site is an important issue for them, to hide the evidence.

Recycle for Norfolk are obviously right to publicise the importance of correct sharps disposal, that should not be placed into drinks cans or other inappropriate containers that too often turn up in the recycling system.

Sadly, many local authorities – though none in Norfolk – specifically advise those finding discarded needles to place them…..into a drinks can!

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