If you're trying to safely discard medical needles while also trying to live "green" by recycling your plastic containers, the Fort Knox Safety Office says you might be doing it wrong.
"There are many people who feel they can safely discard their needles by putting them into a plastic container, like a beverage bottle, and recycling them," said Wendy Steinhoff, a safety officer. "They're trying to be good citizens and they're recycling, but they don't realize the risk to others."
Daniel Sundeen, manager for the Fort Knox Qualified Recycling Program, said the problem begins where most people feel their recycling responsibility ends. They don't stop to realize what happens after they drop their plastics in the "blue bin," according to Sundeen.
"Recyclables have to be sorted; we have to pick out any foreign objects with our hands before it is fed to the machine," Sundeen said. "At that point, the needles are outside the plastic, and if you're not paying attention, there is a good possibility that you're going to get stuck."
Because the problem is typically an oversight by generally conscientious people, Sundeen said, it can easily be remedied.
"Any type of needle should go in a tough plastic container. That protects the garbage men that don't … handle these items like we do," Sundeen said. "They just need to remember to throw it in the trash can and not into the recycle bin."