How Medical Sharps Disposal Came To Oklahoma

How Medical Sharps Disposal Came To Oklahoma

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Editor’s Note: Our buddies on the Product Stewardship Institute not too long ago helped the state of Oklahoma resolve its medical sharps disposal dilemma. They graciously agreed to share their classes realized and actions you’ll be able to take to deal with medical sharps safely in your group.

Medical sharps, corresponding to needles and syringes, are handy units utilized by tens of millions to securely self-inject drugs outdoors of healthcare settings, typically to deal with situations like diabetes. More than 8 million US residents are prescribed self-injecting drugs, producing as many as 3 billion needles per yr.

Although medical sharps are life-saving units for tens of millions of Americans, when needles are flushed or trashed, they pose grave well being and security dangers to residents, sanitation staff, sewage therapy plant operators, waste administration personnel, and hospitality staff.

Finding correct disposal choices for medical sharps might be difficult. In most states, family sharps are suggested to be positioned in plastic containers and disposed of in family trash. However, this methodology poses dangers, particularly for waste administration staff who might encounter free sharps.

Patrick Riley, from the Solid Waste and Sustainability Unit at Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), explains that, in Oklahoma, “the strong waste guidelines are fairly obscure on the subject of… family sharps. They direct folks to place it in a plastic container, label it and put it within the family trash. But apart from that, there aren’t plenty of choices for folks to eliminate sharps.”

The Oklahoma Meds and Sharps Disposal Committee (OMSDC)

Prompted by considerations from waste administration firms about work accidents from needle sticks, the Oklahoma DEQ sought non regulatory options to secure deal with medical sharps. To deal with this drawback, the Product Stewardship Institute (PSI), which has led the nationwide motion for correct sharps administration since 2008, was elected to facilitate the Oklahoma Meds and Sharps Disposal Coalition (OMSDC) with help from the DEQ.

The OMSDC originated not solely from a necessity to handle the insufficient disposal choices for medical sharps, however for numerous difficult-to-dispose-of waste streams in Oklahoma, corresponding to prescription drugs and mercury thermostats. The group has labored to develop secure waste disposal choices for over a decade.

Recognizing the varied stakeholders concerned, the OMSDC contains waste haulers, medical professionals, and hurt discount organizations. Many of those organizations present on-the-ground help, together with figuring out potential assortment places and selling applications in associated organizations and occasions throughout the state.

In 2016, PSI and DEQ launched a drug take-back pilot in Oklahoma with participation from the Oklahoma State Department of Health, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics & Dangerous Drugs Control, Oklahoma State University’s Cooperative Extension Program, Covanta Tulsa, Tulsa Master Recyclers, and the Ithaca (NY) Area Wastewater Treatment Facility.

In 2021, the Oklahoma legislation was amended to permit sharps assortment which led to the primary sharps collection pilot: a six-month program to gather medical sharps from residents freed from cost, developed and applied by PSI and the OMSDC, with grant help from DEQ.

In 2022, the OMSDC and PSI partnered with the Choctaw Nation, Indian Health Services, the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma, and Covanta Environmental Solutions to further expand sharps take-back infrastructure in the state. Through this system, 15 collaborating well being clinics supplied sharps customers with easy-to-use containers that allow them drop off or mail of their used sharps, defending folks and the setting.

In addition to rising out there drop off places, Riley explains how the OMSDC hosts assortment occasions “for folk to usher in all of the stuff that they’ve collected of their storage, like motor oil, antifreeze, electronics, sharps, and prescription drugs. It’s a one-stop store for bringing all this stuff in, all of the issues that folks have a tough time eliminating or for which there must be a greater choice than simply placing all of it right into a residential container and rolling into the curb.”

Over the years, initiatives like takeback pilots have helped increase consciousness and reveal efficient methods for waste administration in Oklahoma. This led PSI to develop a how-to information: Establishing Community Medical Sharps Programs: A Guide for Municipalities, Pharmacies, Health Clinics, and Nonprofits in Oklahoma. This information accommodates data on the necessity for secure disposal choices, the several types of applications out there, standards for designing a program, value estimates, vendor data, and finest observe suggestions.

As a results of this work, there are actually 49 sharps disposal websites in Oklahoma along with common sharps take-back occasions. Our progress underscores the importance of collaborative efforts and significance of group engagement to construct group sources and advocate for improved waste administration providers.

Extended Producer Responsibility for Medical Sharps

Extended producer responsibility (EPR) for medical sharps, which is a compulsory sort of product stewardship required by legislation, is a viable resolution for safely and successfully managing used needles. Currently, California is the one state with an EPR legislation for medical sharps. However, In France, DASTRI – the producer accountability group that operates sharps take-back applications – safely manages 83% of sharps waste. The applications are funded by producers of sharps and medical units, who’re DASTRI members.

In the U.S., PSI has led the motion for sharps EPR since 2008, when the group first convened the private and non-private sectors in dialogue to develop a nationwide resolution which laid the groundwork California’s medical sharps EPR program in addition to the applications in 9 native jurisdictions.

Voluntary initiatives are efficient for managing medical sharps waste, and sometimes an excellent place to start enhancing disposal choices at a neighborhood or state degree. However, EPR is an efficient resolution for guaranteeing secure, necessary medical sharps administration.

What are you able to do?

Start by wanting on the disposal choices in your space and state. Here are steps you’ll be able to take to seek out out there choices:

  • Reach out to your native authorities or strong waste administration staff to inquire about present disposal applications and sources.
  • Utilize online resources and databases to find drop-off places or occasions.
  • Start a sharps assortment program in your individual group!
  • Learn extra about EPR for medical sharps

Medical sharps disposal is a urgent subject that requires collective motion and group engagement. By constructing coalitions just like the OMSDC and advocating for safer disposal strategies in your state, you may make a tangible distinction in enhancing waste administration practices, defending public well being and the setting.

If you’re all in favour of beginning a coalition, or have questions on this work, you’ll be able to contact PSI at: By taking proactive steps to advocate for higher disposal choices, we will create safer and more healthy communities for all. Let’s work collectively to make sure that everybody has entry to secure and handy choices for disposing of medical sharps and drugs.

Need to eliminate medical sharps close to you? Add your ZIP Code to this search to check Earth911 for local options.