According to a statement from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH), “A statewide ban on the disposal of needles, syringes and lancets (collectively known as “sharps”) will go into effect on July 1, 2012.” The law stipulates that disposal of sharps will no longer be allowed in regular household trash in Massachusetts. As of July 1st, Wellesley residents will not be allowed to dispose of their sharps in the trash at the RDF, or in their household trash collected by a private trash hauler.
So, what should residents do with their sharps? Residents may bring their sharps to the Wellesley Police Department during Medication and Needle Take-Back Days, on a Saturday in April and September or October. Residents may also bring their sharps to the RDF in capped, sturdy, puncture and leak-proof containers (such as coffee cans, rigid plastic containers or approved sharps containers) once a year – during the Household Hazardous Products Collection Day, the first Sunday in May.
*Wellesley Health Department is working on a plan that would offer residents another option – one that would allow them to drop off sharps at an alternate location on a regular basis. This would be in addition to the Medication and Needle Take-Back Days in the Spring and Fall, as well as the Household Hazardous Collection Day each May.
The law was (according to the MDPH release) “designed principally to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS, a preventable and treatable disease.” In Wellesley, the law will be important for employees involved in sharps collection at the RDF, and private trash haulers, as it will significantly reduce the risk of needle-stick injuries and disease. It is especially timely, as RDF Superintendent Gordon Martin noted that “illegal disposal of sharps is a major concern, as they (sharps) have been found with more frequency in the plastic recycling areas.”