City partners with public health and ARCH to address discarded needles in Guelph

New boxes will make safe needle disposal easier

Guelph, Ont., September 25, 2020– The City of Guelph, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health and HIV/AIDS Resources and Community Health (ARCH) are working together to install seven new needle disposal boxes across Guelph. The new boxes will help people dispose of used needles properly and keep people in our community safe.

“When people throw needles in regular garbage bins in public or at home or leave them on the ground, they put the safety of our community and our staff at risk,” says Heather Connell, a manager with the City’s Solid Waste Resources department. “Making sure people know how to get rid of needles safely and providing more places to do so, are one way we can help address this issue and improve safety for everyone in our community.”

Safety concerns

City staff cleaning up in Guelph’s downtown core and City parks often find used needles, as do staff sorting household waste collected at the curb. ARCH also gets about 60 reports of needles found in public spaces each year. These needles pose a risk to staff and people in the community who might be pricked by accident if they aren’t seen and handled properly.

“This is an important initiative that will help make our communities safer,” said Rita Isley, Director of Community Health and Chief Nursing Officer for Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health. “The cooperation of the City of Guelph and ARCH are central to supporting both people who use drugs and the general population.”

The hard cost of improper disposal

Improper disposal of needles costs the City approximately $10,000 a year due to emergency shutdowns of sorting lines and lost revenues from the contamination of sellable recyclables. Public pickup costs ARCH almost $2,000 a year, not including the cost of disposal, equipment or staff and volunteer training.

Box locations and use

Needle disposal boxes are designed for the safe, secure disposal of used needles. Much like a Canada Post mailbox, the boxes are tamper-proof so that once the needles are put in the box they can’t be reached or removed by the public.

New locations for boxes were chosen based on places where used needles are frequently found:

  • Royal City Missions, 50 Quebec Street
  • Goldie Mill Ruins, 75 Cardigan Street
  • Guelph Central Station, 79 Carden Street
  • Wellington Plaza, 86 Wellington Street East
  • Royal City Park, 139 Gordon Street
  • Royal Recreation Trail at the Eramosa Road and Woolwich Street intersection
  • Marianne’s Park, 176 Gordon Street

The new boxes are in addition to other needle disposal locations:

  • HIV/AIDS Resources & Community Health, 77 Westmount Road, Unit 110
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, 160 Chancellors Way
  • Guelph Community Health Centre, 176 Wyndham St. North

What to do with found needles in public spaces

Found needles can be reported through ARCH’s Stay Sharp program by calling 519-240-4098. ARCH does needle pickups Monday to Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

ARCH staff and volunteers and some City staff are trained in the proper handling and disposal of needles. ARCH provides instructions and training on how you can properly dispose of needles which can be found on their website.

Never put needles in public or household garbage, recycling, or organics bins.

Proper disposal of needles at home

Used needles are considered hazardous waste and are never to be placed in blue, green or grey carts, public garbage bins, or put down toilets, drains or sewers.

Needles and other sharps must be placed in approved sharps containers and dropped off at the public waste drop off at 110 Dunlop Drive, or at participating local pharmacies. Download the Guelph Waste app for more information or use the Waste Wizard online to find a list of participating pharmacies.


Media Contact

Heather Connell, Manager, Business and Technical Services
Solid Waste Resources, Environmental Services
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 2082
[email protected]