New technology helps clean up areas littered with heroin needles

SANDWICH, Mass. — First responders on Cape Cod are partnering with a private company to utilize new technology to safely dispose of discarded heroin needles that litter the parks, beaches, and shopping areas in the region.

"It's a significant risk to anybody," Sandwich Deputy Fire Chief John Burke told FOX25. "Any used 'sharps' needle poses a threat or a hazard to not only the people, but to pets and animals also."

The Sandwich Fire Department is contracting a special machine from Boxborough-based company, Sterilis, that sterilizes and grinds up needles and other medical waste in a matter of minutes.

"Most people in the medical profession would tell you the best way to treat medical waste is as close to the point of generation as possible, and take care of it immediately," said Sterilis CEO Bob Winskowicz, "And our machines give you that on-demand capability."

Winskowicz said when the company founders came up with the idea for the machine, they envisioned selling it to doctors' offices as a way to dispose of common medical waste.

Instead, Winskowicz said he was surprised to learn after installing the machine at Sandwich's Fire Department, a large part of their business was disposing of used heroin needles.

"I don't think we anticipated that," Winskowicz told FOX25. "People are making some unfortunate decisions because of this unfortunate disease, and they'll throw needles everywhere and anywhere."