Gunnedah Recyclit staff at risk from dumped needles

SPIKE: Gunnedah Recyclit employees have found numerous needles in the loads from Gunnedah's recycling bins. Photo: Gunnedah Recyclit

SPIKE: Gunnedah Recyclit employees have found numerous needles in the loads from Gunnedah's recycling bins. Photo: Gunnedah Recyclit

THE safety of employees at Gunnedah Recyclit is being put at risk by needles dumped in recycling bins.

After a influx of the dangerous sharps in the past few weeks, Recyclit’s contractor, Gunnedah Shire Council, has issued a warning to residents.

“Any of the kerbside bins are not suitable for the disposal of any sharps,” Director of Planning and Environmental Services Andrew Johns said.

“All it takes is one person doing the wrong thing, like putting a needle in the bin, and it becomes an issue.”

A needle is spotted amongst recycling materials at the Material Handling Facility. Photo: Gunnedah Recyclit

A needle is spotted amongst recycling materials at the Material Handling Facility. Photo: Gunnedah Recyclit

According to the council, sharps including needles, syringes and lancets – also called “finger stick” devices – have been disposed of incorrectly.

Mr Johns said material from recycling bins was sorted by hand at the Material Handling Facility, and even though Recyclit employees had appropriate protection, they were still being exposed.

“There’s really no excuse for putting them in the bin, and it puts the workers at risk,” he said.

“Even one needle is too many. There’s got to be an element of ownership from the people who are putting them in there.”

Mr Johns said council will conduct an audit of Gunnedah’s recycling bins in the new financial year. An audit of the general household waste bins has already occurred.

The audit involves taking “random samples” from recycling bins and emptying the load into an area where the contents can be sifted through to determine if they contain “contaminates” – items that should not be in there. 

"If we can identify certain parts of the town that are worse for contamination than others, then we can sort out some education,” Mr Johns said.

Community Public Sharps bins are located in the Vernados Car Park on Little Barber Street, the Water Pump Station on Wandobah Road and Gunnedah Waste Management Facility on Quia Road.

Single use bins are located at sites including Brock’s Court and O’Keefe Pavilion at Wolseley Park, Mornington Park, Gunnedah Community Health and Gunnedah District Hospital.

Gunnedah Recyclit declined to comment.

A guide as to what can be put into general waste bins, recycling bins, and green waste bins is available online at https://www.gunnedah.nsw.gov.au/index.php/environment/waste-management/waste-facilities

Related stories:

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop