Pubdate: Thu, 17 Jun 2004
Source: Daily Herald-Tribune, The (CN AB)
Copyright: 2004 The Daily Herald-Tribune
Bookmark: (Needle Exchange)


Used needles and syringes thrown into city recycling containers are
threatening the health and safety of the workers who sort through the

Employees at the Grande Prairie Recycle Plus Depot are finding that
recycling is a dangerous business as the needles have been showing up
in the plastic containers throughout the city. This is nothing new,
says Aquatera's recycling co-ordinator Michelle Lange, who noted used
sharps have been showing up in the bins for at least the past four

"It's an ongoing problem and we want to raise awareness to the people
who use the hypodermic needles and syringes that they have to be
disposed of in an appropriate manner," she said. "With the sharps in
the containers, there's a real risk to the workers who sort through
the recyclables. The needles could contain small amounts of blood so
there is always that risk."

According to City of Grande Prairie bylaws, hypodermic needles are
considered biomedical waste and are not accepted in recycling depots,
in household garbage or landfills.

All needles should be disposed of by either contacting the HIV North
Society for instructions or returning them to pharmacies. All
pharmacies, with the exception of Superstore, will accept sharps
returned from their customers as long as exact packaging requirements
are followed.

As for the employees sorting through the recycling bins by hand,
measures are already being taken to ensure the safety of anyone who
reaches in.

"I know they're looking at the procedures right now," Lange said.
"They're making adjustments to make sure the employees' health and
safety is number one."
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