MARQUETTE - There is now a safe way to dispose of sharps in Marquette County.
Dave Campana, former owner of Campus Pharmacy in Marquette, Rick Aho, director of the Marquette County Solid Waste Authority, and a number of area pharmacies have teamed up to collect and properly dispose of used sharps containers.
A sharps container is a vessel that holds used medical needles such as syringes.
A medical syringe is properly discarded into a sharps collector container. (Journal photo by Andy Nelson-Zaleski)
There is now an opportunity to bring used sharps containers to a number of participating pharmacies for collection.
"It is a free service. All the pharmacies have to do is accept them from the public that use them," Campana said.
The purpose of the program is to keep sharps out of the normal trash collection.
1015 N. Third, Marquette 225-1144
Marquette General Hospital Pharmacy
580 W. College, Marquette 228-9440
901 Lakeshore Drive, Ishpeming 486-4443
491 US 41 W., Ishpeming 486-4403
Medical Center 1414 W. Fair Ave., Marquette 225-3902
110 S. Main, Ishpeming 486-4405
130 E. State Highway, Gwinn 346-0104
390 US 41 E., Negaunee 475-9967
5091 US 41 S., Harvey 249-1441
1330 US 41 W., Ishpeming 485-5592
1150 W. Washington, Marquette 228-8380
1115 W. Washington, Marquette 226-1046
Walmart and Target stores are not participating in this program at this time.
If you have any questions pertaining to this program please call one of the above listed stores or Marquette County Solid Waste at 249-4108.
In a written statement, Rick Aho said, "It protect the authority employees. The materials still go in the landfill, but they are isolated."
Instead of these objects being placed into the general trash, where the sharps can be a danger to the general public, collection personnel and landfill operators, the sharps that are brought to pharmacy collection sites can be separated from the regular solid waste.
It is a simple process. Pharmacies collect the sharps containers. They are picked up and brought to the MCSWMA.
"If you can think of all the diabetics, as well as others with diseases like AIDS and hepatitis, that generates needles. That is a lot of needles," Campana said.
Although most people who handle sharps try to take the safest route and place them in a sealed bottle or sharps container, this method still isn't the safest for those who have to handle the garbage.
Campana said, "When they (the waste authority workers) compressed the garbage at the landfill they would have needles flying all over."
The sharps program helps keep the sharps from entering the general trash sites and are now handled specially and brought to a special area of the landfill.
"Collected sharps are isolated and buried with the asbestos," Aho said.
Before bringing sharps to any of the pharmacy collection sites they should be placed in a regular sharps container.
If a sharps container is not available the sharps should be placed in a clear bottle such as a two-litter pop bottle or milk container with the label removed.
"The one thing I wish more people would do is tape the top of the containers shut," he said. "It is a safety concern."
"Since the start in November I haven't gotten a lot of calls to pick up containers. I have only had to pick up one load," Campana said.
"The more people know about the program the more people will bring the sharps back." he said.
Andy Nelson-Zaleski can be reached at 906-228-2500 ext. 256. His e-mail address is email@example.com.