Diapers and Needles, Oh My!

Sarah Edwards

CCDES is a member of the Illinois Recycling Contamination Task Force, a group that addresses pressing recycling issues throughout the state. To answer specific recycling questions, the task force has launched the Dirty Dozen Campaign. Each month, a different recycling issue will be addressed. This month, we are exploring biohazardous materials.   There is a lot of confusion about recycling, but all recycling facilities agree that biohazardous materials, such as soiled diapers, used needles, and animal feces, NEVER belong in the recycling bin. There are three simple things you can do:

1) Never put needles in the recycling bin or loosely in the trash. If you need to dispose of needles or other sharps, find out if your doctor or pharmacy has a take back program. For more help on locating a disposal site near you: Visit safeneedledisposal.org and use the locator tool for disposal sites.* If you live in northern Cook County, check out this link for sharps disposal sites near you: http://bit.ly/3aC45no .* *Note: Residency restrictions may apply. Photo from safeneedledisposal.org  

2) Throw away all diapers and animal feces in the trash. These items are considered biohazards and are not to be placed in curbside recycling. Unused diapers and pet waste bags, although made from plastic or containing plastic elements, are not recyclable curbside either, and should be placed in the trash.

3) When in doubt, throw it out or dispose of properly. If you are unsure if you can recycle an item, check with your waste hauler or local authority. If you’re still unsure, simply throw the item out following appropriate disposal guidelines.

Think you are a professional when it comes to determining what is recyclable and what is not? Take this quiz by Earth911.com.

Want more information on needle disposal? Check out this fact sheet from Illinois Environmental Protection Agency: http://bit.ly/397m8k7