San Francisco Bans Plastic Straws While Hypodermic Needle Caps Litter Its Streets

File - In this Feb. 26, 2016, file photo, a number of syringes are scattered in the remain
AP Photo/Eric Risberg

San Francisco’s streets are reportedly littered with plastic hypodermic needle caps from the free syringes provided by the city as officials ban the use of plastic straws.

City leaders approved a ban on plastic straws and stirrers in July in the hopes the plastic would not pollute the San Francisco Bay, but tiny plastic caps from hypodermic needles have been causing pollution on land.

The Washington Post reported Monday that many of the orange plastic caps from the needles the city provides to drug users to prevent the spread of disease have wound up on city streets and sidewalks.

“Napkins, straws, and bags are available upon request,” one local sandwich shop, the Sentinel, notes on its menu. “You can still get needles for free though. Welcome to SF.”

The city gives out, on average, 400,000 syringes per month to drug users but does not control how used needles are disposed of. At least 154,000 of those needles have ended up on playgrounds, parks, streets, and sidewalks, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The used needles and other waste products scattered across the city streets without being disposed of properly have taken a toll on the city’s cleanliness.

An investigative report revealed in February that San Francisco — one of the most expensive cities in the U.S. to live in — was on track to become one of the dirtiest cities in the world on par with some third-world countries.

The problem had become so severe that a major medical association decided in July to back out of holding its annual 15,000-plus member convention in the city.


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