It doesn't get much scarier than being jabbed with a used hypodermic needle from someone's trash. Marty Fischer, plant manager for Graham Recycling Co. in York, Pa., deals with the threat every day. His firm processes 200,000 pounds of high density polyethylene a day from curbside and drop-off programs. In the past six months he disposed of 500 pounds of needles and the plastic jugs in which they were put. Graham Recycling tries to stop as much of the hazard as it can at the door.
``We inspect each bale before it enters the plant, and if we see any sign of needles or medical waste we reject the whole truckload, not just that bale,'' Fischer said.
He rejects about one load a month.
Needles hidden deep within bales make it past the inspection and onto the sorting line.
``If one of the workers spots a needle on the line, we stop the line and carefully sift the materials and place the needle and any container it might be in in a red plastic bag,'' Fischer said.
Graham contracts with an authorized medical waste disposal company to take the bags.
Fischer recently discussed problems that recyclers have with sharps in a Public Recycling Officials of Pennsylvania conference in Seven Springs, Pa.
Bio-Oxidation Inc., based in Chambersburg, Pa., offers another route to keep home health-care sharps out of both the recycling and waste streams. For $1.50-$2 the company sells ``blue boxes'' through pharmacies. People place four to six weeks' worth of sharps in the box and then return it to the pharmacy where Bio-Oxidation picks it up to dispose of it properly.