Don’t toss hypodermic needles in recycling bins, says Sonoma County recology center

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SANTA ROSE (KRON) — “People may look at that needle and say, ‘Oh it’s made out of plastic and the tip is metal, both are generally recyclable products, I’m going to throw that in my recycling bin and hope that it gets recovered.’ That’s absolutely the wrong conclusion to reach,” said Frank Stemmler, general manager of Sonoma Marin recology.

When sorting through recyclables at Santa Rosa’s Recology Center, employees are having to toss hypodermic needles off the line every day — sometimes hundreds every shift.

“We will see 250 needles strewed across the line and we have to shut everything down and have to use protective measures to take every one of those off the line without exposing ourselves to the hazard of being pricked,” said Stemmler.

Stemmler says they have a major syringe problem here– and employees have gotten pricked and sent to the hospital.

If you think it’s because of drug use in the area, Stemmler says that might be part of the problem, but many needles he sees are coming from people who use them for medical reasons.

“Drug use is certainly part of it, but what we are seeing as far as the profile and the way it’s presented suggests the needles are for medical use,” said Stemmler.

Sonoma County only has three needle drop off locations listed on its website.

One is at Dollar Drug — but it’s not free — you have to pay a fee for drop off.

 

 

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