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Dublin Implements Public Sharps Bins to Tackle Drug-Related Litter

In an effort to address the city’s drug-related litter problem, Dublin has moved to install public sharps bins for people who inject drugs to dispose of used syringes.

Dublin City Council recently implemented two robust disposal units in separate locations where public injecting has been identified as a significant problem, following similar low-threshold and economical initiatives in the southern city of Cork.  

Concern with the effect of public drug use and drug-related litter on Dublin’s image is not recent; in 2011, the general public identified public drug use as a significant issue, with over one third of respondents describing antisocial behaviour, particularly alcohol and drug-related behaviour, as being the "worst thing about Dublin."

Indeed, Tony Duffin, director of the Ana Liffey Drug Project, frequently illustrates the extent of drug-related waste in the Irish capital (see Tweet, below), highlighting the necessity of sharps bins to be easily accessible for people who inject.

Commenting on the Council's initiative, which will be evaluated after the 12 week pilot period, Duffin said:

"I wholeheartedly commend Dublin City Council for taking this innovative practical approach to the issue of drug related litter. Dublin has a well-documented problem with the public injecting of drugs. Providing sharps bins in the public domain is just one of a range of proven interventions for reducing drug related litter."

In addition to providing the option of safely disposing of a needle and syringe, the units offer information for people on how to access services for problematic drug use (see photo, below).

This initiative comes against the backdrop of Dublin also progressing toward implementation of a medically supervised injection centre. As well as combating the issue of drug-related littering even further, centres such as these would go some way toward addressing the spread of HIV and hepatitis C among injecting users. In 2009, 27 percent (1,447) of HIV cases in Ireland were thought to be attributable to injecting drug use, and in 2015 it was reported that the number of HIV cases caused by injecting drug use was on the rise in the capital.

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