Few diabetic patients are aware of the difficulties that arise after the disposal of their home-generated sharps.
Yolo Country and the California Product Stewardship Council recently received a $197,680 grant from the California Integrated Waste Management Board to go toward the safe management of sharps.
Sharps are widely used at home by many individuals, not just diabetics, but also by people with blood disorders, people using fertility drugs, and by pet owners for pet medication. After their use, people normally discard the sharps in the trash, not realizing the problems and dangers it creates for sanitation workers handling them in landfills.
The grant will go toward the creation of kits that would be given to the public to properly manage the sharps, as well as drop-off centers where the sharps could be easily recycled. This would impact the cities of Davis, Winters, Woodland and West Sacramento.
In Davis, the containers will be given out at both Longs Drugs stores and at the Davis Senior Center, said Jennifer Gilbert, conservation coordinator for the city of Davis. These locations will also serve as drop-off centers for full containers.
These free containers can also be dropped off at the county landfill between the hours of 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., two days in the month.
Alternatively, the county will provide 500 mail-back containers that can be sent through the mail to a hazardous waste facility. This method is a much more convenient way for the public to dispose of their waste, said Marissa Juhler, Waste Management and Sustainability Manager for Yolo County.
Juhler said that although the law has been passed, it does not necessarily mean that people are aware of it.
“Our first objective is to educate the community,” she said.
On Sept. 1, 2008, it became illegal in the state of California to discard home-generated sharps into the trash without first placing them into red hazardous waste containers. People then had to drop the containers on designated drop-off days to the county landfill.
California is not the only state that addressed this problem. Other states such as Washington, Oregon, Minnesota and Rhode Island have passed bills that require companies to be personally responsible for the hazardous waste their respective products create.
“We need to get the producers to be more responsible,” said Heidi Sanborn, spokesperson for the CPSC. “As of now, there is no overarching bill that designates how this waste is to be handled.“
The grant also allows the CPSC to implement product stewardship into their purchasing policies. This would require the Yolo County cities to show preference towards companies that have a means to manage their waste or companies that minimize their negative impact on the environment and human health.
Sanborn said that the grant comes as a relief considering the costs to manage the waste are well beyond that received from taxes and garbage rates.
ANA QUIROZ can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.