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New rules are now in effect about disposing needles and scalpels in Winneshiek County

Posted: Thu, Jan 3, 2019 4:37 PM

Consumers who use needles to treat medical conditions will need to comply with new rules about disposing their used needles.

The Winneshiek County Solid Waste Agency has passed a resolution banning sharps (needles and scalpels) from the Winneshiek County Landfill as of January 1st.  The change is being made to help protect local landfill workers.  When bulldozers try to compact garbage that contains needles or scalpels, the "sharps" can get caught in the bulldozer tracks.  If this happens, the only way to free up the bulldozer tracks is to manually remove the needles and scalpels by hand--putting landfill workers at risk for accidental needle sticks.

Healthcare professionals and pharmacists from Winneshiek County met several times in 2018 to discuss the issue.  They decided to put the red sharps collection box at the Winneshiek County Public Health office in the Smith Building at 305 Montgomery Street in Decorah.  Currently this is the only collection box in the county, but there may be additional collection boxes in the future.  Some pharmacies also have mail-back needle boxes for sale.

In order to use the collection box, consumers will now need to use a hard-plastic container such as a laundry detergent bottle, fabric softener bottle or coffee can and put their used needles into it.  Once the container is full, consumers should securely tape the lid closed and drop it into the red sharps collection container.

For more information, contact Winneshiek County Public Health at 563-382-4662.