OCEANSIDE — Residents can now safely dispose of their used hypodermic needles, pen needles and lances at free drop-off centers at Country Club Senior Center and El Corazon Senior Center. The drop-off centers help keep needles out of landfills and ensure that sanitation workers stay safe.“The state of California outlawed putting sharps in the trash because of the danger to sanitation workers,” said Colleen Foster, Solid Waste and Recycling management analyst. “There have been incidents of people handling the materials being injured or picked with the needles.”Instructions for safe drop off are posted on the outside of the white mailbox-like containers located inside the senior centers. Sharps waste must be put inside a securely closed rigid container before they are disposed of in the drop-off box. Multiple sharps can be put inside one container.
“Sharps need to be in a hard, rigid plastic container and taped closed,” Foster said. “There are options that don’t have to be purchased like a water bottle. We don’t want to have anyone come in with sharps in a plastic bag.”
Pharmacies and other businesses should not use the drop-off centers. They are intended to make proper disposal free and convenient for residents.
“Sharps count for a significant amount of material in the landfill,” Foster said. “A type 1 diabetic can use 12 needles a day.”
The free drop-off centers are self-serve and open during operation hours of the senior centers.
Waste Management picks up disposed sharps from the centers.
“People have already called,” Tina Beasley, El Corazon Senior Center recreation leader II, said. “They were excited and wanted to confirm we had the facility on site.”
For a small fee residents can drop off sharps waste at the Waste Management Buyback Center located at 2880 Industry Street.
Sharps waste can be mailed in for disposal for a small fee through Waste Management’s MedWaste Tracker mail-back program. For more information on the mail-in program, visit medwaste.wm.com.