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Medical waste causing problems at Recycle Center

Posted at 9:54 AM, Feb 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-25 19:53:21-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The city of Lexington is warning residents that medical waste is causing some serious problems at Lexington's Recycle Center.

Its presence causes serious safety issues for employees working the line. It also results in material being sent to the landfill, much of which could have been recycled. Workers are dealing with the dangers of needles, dialysis bags and tubes, IV bags and tubes and vials. Some employees have even been stabbed by needles and had to received medical treatment.

"People with needles at home can put them in an old coffee can or milk jug with the lid on and simply put them in the trash," Lexington Department of Environmental Quality and Public Works Senior Program Manager Angela Poe said.

The Recycle Center staff do their best to catch these contaminants in the room where the trucks dump their loads, but medical waste still makes its way onto the sorting line.

"So, we've seen an increase in the amount of medical waste that is ending up in our recycle center here which is a huge problem for us," Poe explained. "The safety hazard for employees and it also presents an efficiency issue because we have to start and stop a line a lot due to the contamination of the medical waste."

When medical waste is found on the sorting line, it can also cause damages to the machines and causes work delays. Employees are no longer allowed to touch the material until the equipment is decontaminated.

Though the problem is serious, the solution is simple. Dispose of medical waste properly. It is not recyclable. Put it with biohazard or landfill-bound waste only.