Needle disposal units in public places? Officials say it protects employees

Pat Loeb
January 18, 2019 - 4:00 am
A needle disposal unit In Starbucks at 18th and Spruce streets.

Pat Loeb/KYW Newsradio


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Starbucks has been putting needle disposal boxes in some of its restrooms, including some in Philadelphia, and it's part of a growing trend. 

Amari says he never paid attention to the needle disposal unit in his favorite Starbucks, at 18th and Spruce streets, when it went in last fall. 

"I don't think there's anything wrong with it. I guess it is kind of shocking when you think about it," he said. 

Philadelphia officials are hoping it becomes less shocking and more common. The city itself has installed the units at SEPTA stations, parks and recreation centers in the Kensington area and harm reduction coordinator Allison Herens says other businesses, such as Barnes and Noble, have put them in their restrooms. 

The FDA has been recommending for at least a year that airports, hotels and restaurants provide needle disposal units in their restrooms to protect employees from accidental sticks, and they began popping up around that time. 

"We really want to see more businesses taking on this responsibility and realizing that this is not only in the best interest of their customers, but also their staff who will have to worry about potential sticks if needles just end up in the trash," Herens said. 

Herens says it's clearly a response to the opioid epidemic, but it also benefits others, such as diabetics, who inject themselves for health reasons.