Sharps disposal bins now available in Moree
Moree Plains Shire Council has recently installed 11 new disposal bins that they purchased with financial support from the Community Sharps Management Program.
We asked the driving force behind Moree’s new safe disposal strategy, Environmental Health Officer Belinda Olsen, to tell us about the process.
Why did Moree Plains Shire Council decide to install community sharps disposal bins?
We were receiving feedback from concerned members of the public about the number of inappropriately discarded syringes in public areas. At a number of our regular community meetings, similar concerns were also raised.
We know we have a high rate of diabetes in our community and we know that more people are managing medical conditions at home that generate sharps. As well as providing a safe workplace for our workforce, particularly our outdoor staff, we want to limit the number of needles and syringes that end up in our general waste stream and in public spaces , such as parks.
So we decided to make it easier for people to access safe sharps disposal options.
Who were the key people you consulted with during this process?
MPSC formed a Sharps Management Working Group which consisted of myself, the Assessment Manager of Planning and Development, Plant Operator of Outdoor Staff, WHS officer, waste department personnel, and the General Manager, and from there we formed links with key personnel from the NSW Ministry of Health.
Do you think promotion of the new disposal options is important?
It is very important to make residents and visitors aware of where the bins are so they use them. We also need the community to understand why we have installed them. Initially there were a few negative comments, but that is to be expected. Generally the response is positive because we are providing a service people need.
Having gone through this process, what have you learnt?
That it is a whole of community issue. People need to understand that sharps are generated by lots of people in different situations. We have to have easily accessible places for sharps to be safely disposed of. It is a long term process because it is about changing behaviours.
Any advice for other councils who are considering managing community sharps?
Speak to the Community Sharps Management Program first because that makes the process simple. They are dealing with this daily. It is important to form relationships with local Health and other support services. Data collection is a must. It will provide evidence of change and it should be seen as a key activity. We also keep this on the agenda at regular meetings so we can deal with issues as they arise.