Each year, as many as 3 billion needles or syringes are generated in homes and other unregulated sites throughout the United States. Often, these needles are disposed of improperly. Current needle disposal regulations only apply to health care settings, such as doctor's offices and hospitals, leaving family members and sanitation workers exposed to possible injuries.
To alleviate this problem, Sharps Compliance Corp. and Waste Management Inc. (WMI), both Houston-based, have launched a national campaign to reduce improper needle disposal.
Sharps' program allows needle users, such as those with diabetes, hepatitis or multiple sclerosis, a safe way to dispose of their equipment. To participate, a needle user is sent a puncture-proof and leak-resistant plastic container. Once the plastic container is full, the user mails the container back to Sharps Compliance, where it is properly destroyed.
WMI is marketing Sharps' needle mail-back program to its 25 million residential customers. Additionally, the company is placing notices in its residential customers' monthly bills to educate them about Sharps' mail-back service. WMI also is asking cities with which it has municipal contracts to incorporate the mail-back program into their solid waste services.
WMI began working with Sharps more than one year ago, when the two companies launched a pilot to test the mail-back program. Based on that success, gauged from an increased number of calls, sales and repeat orders, the two companies decided to join forces for the program expansion.
Becton, Dickinson and Co. (BD), Franklin Lakes, N.J., also is currently helping to promote the Sharps mail-back program at more than 55,000 pharmacies nationwide.