Effort sharpens access for safe lancet, needle disposal

Thinking sustainably has always been at the forefront of Mike Molloy’s mind—at work and at home. His interest in reducing what goes into our landfills prompted the Carle community sharps initiative. As a safety specialist, he and others work to offer more safe and environmentally friendly options for community members to dispose their sharps.

With so many diabetes and infertility patient needs for using sharps, the program will help properly dispose thousands of pounds worth of waste a year.

Champaign’s Carol Mazure was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes 42 years ago on Christmas Eve. For years, she disposed of four or five needles every day—about 25,000 needles for the 15 years. Her treatment changed when she added an insulin pump, but she still throws out two needles every three days.

There are no regulations for how people should dispose of their personally used sharps, but the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends connecting with local healthcare facilities’ disposal methods.

Today, Mazure fills a milk jug with her used needles. It’s full every three months, and it’s the best method she’s found to safely dispose of them at home. Still, she fears they will puncture the jug or stick someone.

Carle added eight public disposal units to the two bins already available at the organization’s main campus in Urbana. Facilities staff will place single-use bins in main restrooms, and 18-gallon bins behind main lobby reception desks.

People can drop off unlimited numbers of sharps at these Carle locations.

  • Carle Foundation Hospital
  • South Clinic
  • Champaign on Curtis
  • Urbana on Windsor
  • Danville on Fairchild
  • Danville on Vermilion
  • Carle Ambulatory Surgery Center
  • Carle Hoopeston Regional Health Center
  • Watseka

“This extends this program and offer more opportunities for our patients and other community members to dispose of their sharps in a safe environment,” Molloy said.

Offering this service ensures that sharps will be disposed according to EPA guidelines and will not be intercepted and cause potential harm to others or spread infection.

“A needle stick isn’t like a finger prick. It’s very sharp, and I don’t want to hurt anyone,” Mazure said, adding Carle’s expanded program is good for her household and the environment.

“If I’m using that many, imagine how many others can benefit, too.”