Needle prompts closure of landfill’s free store

The City of Whitehorse's reuse store is closed this week after a staffer found a hypodermic needle amongst some donated clothing.

The City of Whitehorse’s reuse store is closed this week after a staffer found a hypodermic needle amongst some donated clothing.

The store at the landfill was shut down as a precaution, said Dave Albisser, the city’s manager of water and waste services.

“We need to step back and say ‘Wow, we need to do this better or look at the other options of what to do with the store entirely,’” he said.

Unfortunately it’s not the first time someone has been poked with a needle at the store, Albisser said.

Last year, a contractor’s staff person found one in a bag and poked himself.

Albisser said “everything is on the table” in terms of trying to figure out how to run the store as safely as possible.

The City is seeking advice from Raven Recycling, the Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity on how to improve its policies, since those organizations run reuse stores across Canada.

Albisser expects the store to open up again at some point next week.

Bio-medical waste, which includes dressings, bandages or other infected material, and hypodermic needles are banned from the landfill.

Albisser said there’s a small disposal facility there, as well as one at the Whitehorse General Hospital, Raven Recycling and Blood Ties Four Directions.

“Please use these facilities wisely,” he said.

“Filling those places with garbage or things that aren’t necessarily reusable is just shedding the problem onto volunteers. When it’s used as a dumping ground it exacerbates the problem of having to clean it out so frequently.”

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