Sharper Restrictions

Addressing a prickly situation, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a bill that bans home-generated sharps waste from trash and recycling containers. Sponsored by Sen. Liz Figuero, SB 1305 also calls for developing public education programs as well as collection infrastructure — such as mail-back programs — that is safe, convenient and cost effective.

The term “home-generated sharps waste” includes hypodermic, pen and intravenous needles, and lancets used by the millions of Americans with diabetes and other diseases requiring injections. An estimated 3 billion injections per year happen outside of health care settings.

The ban goes into effect Sept. 1, 2008 and will make California one of the few states to prohibit sharps from residential waste. For information on regulations in other states, see p. 44.