Seattle Public Utilities has collected more than 32,000 needles over the past 15 months through a sharps collection pilot program meant to address an epidemic of syringes in many neighborhoods.
SPU announced the numbers Tuesday, along with a reminder of where to find a network of nine needle drop boxes throughout the city.
People have deposited nearly 27,000 needles into the boxes since they were installed in February, SPU said. Cleanup crews have plucked another 5,365 syringes from public property since August, 2016.
“Our goal and our purpose is to respond to it within 24 hours, seven days a week,” said Idris Beauregard, who leads the needle collection program.
The city has received more than 1,100 needle complaints since the program started, Beauregard said.
Here’s how to report needles on public property.
The city will not clean up needles on private property, but it does provide the drop boxes for people who collect sharps and want a safe place to dispose of them.
Here is a map of needle drop-off locations.
Here's how SPU recommends you handle needles on your property:
-Do not pick them up with your bare hands. Use a glove and tongs, shovel, or broom and dustpan.
-Place used sharps and syringes in a manufactured sharps container (purchase at pharmacies) or a 2-liter plastic soda pop bottle. Make sure the lid fits tightly and tape it shut. If you use a plastic pop bottle, label it: "SHARPS, DO NOT RECYCLE."
-Do not break the needle off from the syringe. If the needle gets broken off from a syringe you have personally used, pull the plunger out of the barrel, put the needle in the barrel, and then replace the plunger.
-Do not put sharps in the garbage.