Home-generated medical waste no longer allowed in landfills
Per Senate Bill 1305, it became illegal on Sept. 1 to dispose of home-generated medical needles, or sharps, into household trashcans or recyclable containers. Sharps waste is now to be taken to a collection center in an actual sharps container, a red box that varies in size.
According to LRSWMA program coordinator Paula Wesch, pharmacies, public health, or Banner Lassen Medical Center are not taking sharps material.
Those entities including other interested parties will be invited to the meeting so the community can come up with a solution, so LRSWMA is not the sole responsible party.
“While it does end up, in the end, being a solid waste problem, it’s really not fair for solid waste to carry the whole thing, it should be a community effort,” Wesch said.
The bill not only affects those who use needles for medical purposes at home such as for diabetes, but sharps generated from pet and livestock owners. Sharps may also be blood vials containing biohazardous waste and any item with medical waste capable of cutting or piercing the skin. Before the bill was passed, a sharps container could be anything from a coffee can to a bleach bottle.
LRSWMA board director Jack Hanson asked if a no-charge receptacle could be placed at the Bass Hill Landfill for people to drop off their sharps material.
Wesch said because the medical waste has to be in an approved sharps container, someone would have to supply the customers with the boxes and LRSWMA would have to pay to have the kiosk serviced by Medical Waste Authority.
The California Integrated Waste Management Board is looking at various options to start a Sharps disposal program including drop-off collection sites such as pharmacies and hospitals, mail-back programs and household hazardous-waste sites.
Currently, counties are not required to implement a sharps program.
However, Wesch said other solid waste authorities in the state have taken the lead on finding a sharps disposal solution.
The stakeholder’s meeting is one way LRSWMA has taken the lead in finding a sharps solution.
During the summer, staff started researching options for starting a Sharps program before the law went into effect.
Some of the options for Lassen County included participating in mail-back programs or coordinating with the local pharmacies and possibly public health to provide convenient drop-off locations for residents.
She said the state mandated the new law, but there are no funds available.
However, she said the authority could receive money from its household hazardous-waste program and some of the new HHW grant money can go toward Sharps disposal.
Even though there isn’t a sharps take-back program in place, Wesch said people can contact their local pharmacy, doctor or hospital to see what take-back options are available.
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