Boston City Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George is requesting a new ordinance to provide for safe disposal of needles through the establishment of a product stewardship program.
“We all know the Sharps team collects hundreds of thousands of needles in our streets,” said Essaibi-George during the regular city council meeting.
The councilor said with the opioid epidemic, in addition to regular residents with different health needs, needles are being disposed of improperly all the time.
“The insufficient number of safe drop-off sites for sharps has caused improper disposal of needles in household trash, parks, and public spaces,” said the ordinance proposal. “Improper disposal of sharps poses a risk to public health and safety and our waste management system; and creation of additional safe collection sites and increased public awareness will aid in the City of Boston’s efforts to curb this public health crisis.”
The proposal calls for collection and disposal of sharps by placing the responsibility on the manufacturers of the products, like large pharmacies. It would require these companies to establish a collection system to provide convenient, ongoing collection services to all persons seeking to dispose of unwanted sharps. They can do this by creating collection kiosks, drop-off day events at locations in the City of Boston, or in-home disposal methods that render a product safe from misuse and that comply with applicable city, state, and federal laws and regulations.
“The intent of this ordinance is to provide consumers with more convenient ways to return and ensure the safe and environmentally sound disposal of home-generated sharps,” the proposal goes on to say.
The councilor said when she talked to residents during needle take back day, many of them could not properly dispose of their needles due to the expense of doing so.
“It is important that pharmacies play a role in the lifecycle of our needles,” she said.
Essaibi George did say she was worried about how this would impact small pharmacies and is interested in a conversation on how to handle that issues. In the North End & Waterfront, there have been several recent 311 reports of needles. There will be a hearing on this proposal.