ST. MARYS, AUSTRALIA — ASP Plastics Pty. Ltd., an injection molding company based at St. Marys, west of Sydney, has donated 300 polypropylene-blend portable needle disposal kits to every patrolled beach in Australia. Australia's 25,000 volunteer lifeguards and 60 million annual beach-goers now will have access to a safe means for disposing of used syringes, said Steve Conolly, ASP Plastics commercial manager.
ASP Plastics will supply the compact Disposa-Safe needle kits to Surf Life Saving Australia clubs around the country, to be included in lifeguards' standard equipment. Supplied with rubber gloves and safety instructions, lifeguards will be able to remove needles quickly and safely as they are reported.
ASP Plastics already supplies its Fit-Pack needle dispensing and disposal systems to needle exchange centers throughout Europe and parts of the United States. But Conolly said it is too early to say whether the Disposa-Safe product also would be exported to North America.
Strong domestic and overseas sales have seen the Australian company average growth rates of 20 percent each year, he said.
While the Fit-Pack system promotes hygienic drug use, the Disposa-Safe system is to remove dirty, discarded needles, he said.
Statistics suggest less than 50 percent of syringes produced in Australia are disposed of safely. Parks, beaches and city alleys are "notorious after-dark hang-outs for drug users," who regularly meet at places least likely to draw attention, Conolly said.
Surf Life Saving Australia says beaches near storm-water drains or public transportation and those that are poorly lit have the highest concentration of discarded syringes.
Up to 10 syringes can be deposited in a kit before it is discarded, and Conolly said there is no risk of needlestick injuries once the syringe is inside.
"The Disposa-Safe kit is designed to collapse in a certain way, so that sharps inside will be forced to the base, the thickest part of the container," he said.