Massive Hypodermic Needle Cache at Johnston Recycling Facility

18 shutdowns were forced at the Rhode Island Resource Recovery's recycling facility when wave after wave of used hypodermic needles was found on sorting conveyers…


JOHNSTON, R.I. (May 24, 2010) – Improperly discarded hypodermic needles caused an extraordinary level of shutdowns at Rhode Island Resource Recovery's recycling facility in Johnston last week.    The plant experienced shutdowns at least nine times a day to clear insulin needles and lancets from the sorting lines.

“Last Wednesday, we shut down the conveyers 18 times to clear off sharps, which must be a record,” said Sarah Kite, director of recycling services.  “Sharps are considered hazardous waste because they can cause infections and spread disease.  Protecting the safety of our workers is our utmost priority.  Everyone using needles must learn the correct way to dispose of their used sharps and stop this alarming trend.”

She explained that a thick plastic container, such as one that held bleach or laundry detergent, is an appropriate vessel to collect used sharps and lancets.  When full, people should tape the cap to the jug and throw it in the trash, not the recycling bin.

“We only want empty containers at the recycling facility.  Empty containers are safe and easily managed.”

Kite explained that when containers full of needles make their way from recycling bins to the recycling facility, they tend to break open and spill their contents.  This endangers the workers who have to handle their removal, and causes lost production time at the Materials Recycling Facility.

“With education and effort, we can solve this problem quickly, keeping Rhode Islanders healthy and our workers safe,” concluded Kite.