Up to 100 objects are being found in recycling waste in Leeds every month which pose a real risk to the workers who sort it. Leeds City Council and local health organisations are teaming up to raise awareness of the importance of safe disposal of needles and other sharp equipment being used at home by people.
Workers who sort through recycling waste at Leeds City Council’s main waste recycling facility are consistently finding items like needles and epi-pens amongst recycling waste they are sorting.
Councillor Rebecca Charlwood, Leeds City Council Executive Member for Health, Wellbeing and Adults, said:
“Every day when recycling collected in Leeds is being sorted, waste teams are finding needles. We believe many of these needles are most likely a result of people not knowing how to safely dispose of them. Consequently, to make it as easy as possible and reduce the risk of any injury, we want to raise awareness of what is the right way to dispose of used needles. Fortunately very few of these lead to needle stick injuries and the workers involved have appropriate vaccination.”
Although only one person has so far needed medical intervention following being cut or pricked by one of these pieces of waste in recent years, health professionals and waste management teams are keen to find ways to reduce the risk as much as possible.
Gail Evans is an Advanced Health Improvement Specialist with Leeds City Council’s Public Health team. She said:
“We know that lots of people need to use needles at home when they have to control health issues like diabetes or for anti-clotting support. There are also people using needles and other sharps for other reasons, including injecting drug users.
“Anyone using needles or epi-pens they received as part of health care can access sharps bins which can be safely disposed of by returning to their registered GP surgery or health centre or using a special collection facility for housebound patients run by the council.”
Waste worker Neringa Norvaisiene, from HW Martin Waste Ltd, said
“Every day we sort through tonnes of recycling. Part of the process involves sorting the waste by hand and we see all sorts, but watching out for stray sharps is almost literally looking for a needle in a haystack.
“That’s why we’re keen to remind people to make sure they dispose of any medical sharps or other waste properly. If you’ve been given a sharps box, please make sure you use it and follow the instructions you were given when you were given it.”
Advice about dealing with used insulin needles and other clinical waste can be obtained from the healthcare professionals dealing with you. The council’s waste team can also give advice on 0113 222 4406.