JUST 37% OF British livestock producers return used syringes and needles to their vet, according to an Environment Agency survey, with 22% putting them into the household waste collection.

This may be because take-back of waste by suppliers is fragmented, but they must be disposed of safely. Farm assurance schemes require producers to work with their vet on a disposal policy, reminds vet Rob Drysdale of Westpoint Vet Services.

The system he has set up for clients in the National Dairy Farm Assured Scheme (NDFAS) sees them provided with a 50-litre pharmaceutical waste bin for part-used medicines and empty containers. This costs £50 and includes collection for incineration, on average once a year.

Sharps, such as needles, are collected in a seven-litre bin supplied by the practice for £12. This has an envelope opening so that whatever is pushed in, can’t be removed. When full, these are returned to the practice for disposal.

“Clinical waste, such as syringes and gloves, is collected in a yellow bag. This costs about £4/kg to dispose of, but it’s minimal and part of our service,” says Mr Drysdale.