Background InformationA meeting called Safe Community Syringe Disposal: Understanding the Barriers and Creating Solutions was held in Washington, D.C. in January 2001. This meeting brought together key representatives from professional associations, industry, government, and public health.
Based upon data presented and discussions at that meeting, the participants issued the following statement regarding the safe disposal of used syringes, needles, and other sharps in the community:
In the community, improperly disposed used sharps pose a public health hazard to both workers and the public. While this complex problem requires national leadership, successful solutions must be focused at the state, local and community levels. Collaborative efforts involving national, state, and local governments, the solid waste industry, labor organizations, syringe and pharmaceutical manufacturers, pharmacies and pharmaceutical distributors, and health associations are needed to identify, develop, and implement strategies to ensure safe disposal of used sharps in the community. Ideally, these strategies should reduce or eliminate sharps in solid waste, should be low-cost and convenient for the public, and should be easily implemented in the community.
A second meeting in June 2002 brought together representatives of the American Medical Association, American Pharmaceutical Association, American Diabetes Association, American Association of Diabetes Educators, National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, Centers of Disease Control, OSHA, EPA, BD and Waste Management, thus officially forming the Coalition for Safe Community Needle Disposal. Members of these organizations issued a Call to Action Letter in July 2002 addressing the issue of safe community needle disposal.
The Coalition received start-up funding from Waste Management Corp. and Becton Dickinson and was officially launched in August 2002. It completed its first fiscal year of operation in March 2003.