Minneapolis installs syringe drop boxes in effort to reduce litter on streets, public spaces

Syringe disposal boxes are being installed in Minneapolis this month. (City of Minneapolis)

The City of Minneapolis is installing syringe drop boxes in public spaces over the next few weeks in an effort to clean up city streets.

According to a release from the city, the pilot program is intended to decrease the amount of syringe litter in the streets and public spaces. Syringe litter can become a public health hazard by causing injuries and spreading disease.

The boxes, made by a local manufacturer, contain small holes the size of syringes and other injection supplies. It also contains a secure box that fits the collection liner better for safe emptying by the authorized vendor.

Officials began installing the boxes on Nov. 1, and the process will be completed by Nov. 18. The 10 drop box locations will be evaluated for effectiveness and can be relocated if collection data recommends it.

A professional biohazard company, Industrial Hygiene Services Corporation, will empty the boxes weekly and report to the City with data that will include the number of syringes collected and ways the boxes are being used.

Other cities, such as New York, Boston and San Francisco, are currently using syringe drop boxes and have found that the programs decrease the amount of syringe litter by at least half. 

According to the city, Minneapolis Police have seen the number of opioid overdose calls rise from 286 in 2015 to 954 in 2018.

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