COVID-19 vaccine rollout sees uptick in demand for protected, low-cost needle disposal

An unintended consequence of COVID-19 has been a surge in new trash, from face masks, wipes, and gloves to now used syringes. As thousands and thousands of vaccines roll out every day, the method of disposing of needles safely and effectively might be fairly the duty.

The means of needles or “sharps” disposal should comply with sure pointers. In Arizona, these are outlined by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. 

“The main concern is sticking hazards, ensuring that people don’t get injured,” Terry Baer, ADEQ Waste Programs Division Section Manager Solid/ Hazardous Waste, stated. 

 As thousands and thousands of vaccines roll out every day, the method of disposing needles safely and effectively might be fairly the duty.
(Stephanie Bennett/Fox News)

The most typical strategies of disposal are grinding, burying, or autoclaving, a course of that steam cleans the needles earlier than disposal.


“With a big quantity like this, it is necessary that there are an unlimited variety of alternatives which are obtainable to organizations,” Baer stated. 

Some firms are attempting extra environmentally-friendly strategies. OnSite Waste Technologies out of California stated their newest system can save time, cash and assets by compressing as much as 200 needles directly right into a protected brick. The firm stated 38 states are already utilizing the strategy. 

OnSite Waste Technologies out of California said their latest device can save time, money and resources by compressing up to 200 needles at once into a safe brick.

OnSite Waste Technologies out of California stated their newest system can save time, cash and assets by compressing as much as 200 needles directly right into a protected brick.
(Brad Barnes/ OnSite Waste Technologies)

“All of the sharps waste that is going down at the moment, we are able to deal with it instantly proper on the positioning, and we flip it into common trash,” Brad Barnes, CEO of OnSite Waste Technologies stated.

The firm estimates about 660 million syringes are wanted to inoculate the whole U.S. inhabitants. If laid finish to finish, that may create sufficient waste to wrap across the earth about 1.8 occasions. Their containers can condense the needle waste by round 80%. It makes use of thermal warmth to deal with the waste so it’s protected to throw away into the landfill. 

“It will take about 3.6 million volumes of carbon emission, we cut back that all the way down to about 200,000 ranges of emission,” Barnes stated.

Coconino County in Arizona is the second-largest county by landmass within the U.S. Officials there stated disposing of all their used COVID-19 vaccine syringes is a pricey activity.


“It can be hundreds of {dollars} if not tens of hundreds,” Wes Dison, Coconino County Emergency Management Director, stated.  “For instance, the sharps containers are about $150 a bit, they’re one-time use, they do not come again, they depart with the biowaste in them and so they by no means come again. We have to switch all of these.”

That’s the place native Flagstaff resident Russell Mann, proprietor of Ponderosa Medical Waste Service, stepped in to assist. 

Mann is not any stranger to the business and has been eradicating medical waste for years, however the pandemic has made him busier than ever. After realizing the monetary burden this might create for the county, he’s providing his companies totally free, disposing of all their used COVID-19 needles about twice every week.

“I am unable to give photographs, I am unable to do any of these issues, however I can do in all probability the one factor that no person else can do, and I can eliminate all of those needles for you and I’m not charging you a factor. I stay on this county, I’m aside of this neighborhood, and I’m joyful to step up,” Mann stated.

Flagstaff resident Russell Mann is helping dispose all of Coconino County's used COVID-19 syringes free of charge.

Flagstaff resident Russell Mann helps dispose all of Coconino County’s used COVID-19 syringes freed from cost.
(Stephanie Bennett/Fox News)

Following the authorised pointers, after Mann picks up the needles from the Fort Tuthill vaccination location in Flagstaff he then drives them three hours east to one of many solely landfills in Arizona that takes untreated medical waste. Since he has a refrigerated truck he can maintain the needles for 96 hours earlier than they must be dumped.

For now, Mann stated he’ll proceed to assist out till June or till the county says he’s not wanted. The most necessary a part of all of this he stated is ensuring the needles are taken care of and are out of hurt’s approach. 


“It’s a decent neighborhood and that is an superior a part of it, and there is at all times individuals serving to one another out round right here,” stated Mann. “If all these of us are going to be out right here working. I’ll work too I do not thoughts a bit.”

Needles and glass vials can’t be recycled, however different waste together with packaging and containers could also be despatched again to the producer.

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