Nearly two dozen new safe needle disposal boxes have been installed in locations throughout Edmonton.
The city said it’s hoped the 23 boxes will provide more places for needles to be safely discarded.
The metal boxes come equipped with bright yellow signs, clearly stating they’re meant for sharps disposal. The city said the new design is safer, more durable and easier to install. All of the new boxes are located on public property.
“We had hired an industrial designer to have another look at our needle boxes,” said Don Belanger, program manager with Capital City Cleanup. “We knew we wanted something less stigmatizing than the previous ones.”
Watch below: Reports of discarded needles in Edmonton are down overall since the opening of supervised consumption sites. Julia Wong reports. (Filed January 2019).
On Wednesday, the city also unveiled an interactive map outlining where each of the boxes are located. The majority of the disposal boxes are located within the core of the city, but a few are spaced out in the northwest and south. Needles can also be discarded at any of the city’s Eco Stations.
“In looking at it, we all want needles to go where they belong,” Belanger said. “The city and our partners continue to make improvements to needle collection and disposal. Providing more options for disposal, along with ready access to information, is one way to do that.”
Earlier this year, the city unveiled two interactive needle collection maps, which show the number of 311 calls for needle pickup on public property and the number of needles collected in Edmonton by neighbourhood.
The number of needles picked up by the city on public property dropped from 7,739 in 2017 to 4,226 in 2018 — or 45 per cent.
During the same time frame, the city said the number of calls to 311 reporting discarded needles increased by 50 per cent — from 648 in 2017 to 972 in 2018.
Anyone who sees a needle unsafely discarded in a public space is urged to call 311 or report it via the 311 app.