Starbucks Placing Needle-Disposal Boxes in Store Restrooms

April 23, 2019

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

By Scott Gelman

Starbucks is adding needle-disposal boxes to its store’s restrooms after employees and customers expressed concerns about the health risks dirty needles pose.

A representative from Starbucks said stores only have boxes in their restrooms if the local managers request them. Starbucks told The Drive it’s unclear when the boxes started being installed but emphasized the store’s efforts aren’t new.

The boxes are the company’s response to the opioid epidemic, which has seen 130 Americans die each day from an opioid overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Starbucks is unsure if the disposal boxes already exist or will appear in stores throughout the DMV.

Starbucks doesn’t know how many stores currently have the boxes. A Business Insider report said they appear in locations in “at least 25 US markets.”

An unidentified person referred to as “Citizen Z” created an online petition alleging Starbucks had “no comment to employees” when they mention the risks associated with cleaning store bathrooms that feature used needles.

“Employees risk getting poked, and DO get poked, even when following ‘protocol’ of using gloves and tongs to dispose of used needles left in bathrooms, tampon disposal boxes, and diaper changing stations,” the petition said.

As of Tuesday morning, the petition includes 5,004 signatures. The petition says it will be delivered to Starbucks headquarters in person.

The issue of lingering needles in restrooms has plagued Starbucks since 2018, when two workers in Eugene, Oregon, were struck with needles, Business Insider reported.

“These societal issues affect us all and can sometimes place our partners (employees) in scary situations, which is why we have protocols and resources in place to ensure our partners are out of harm’s way,” a Starbucks spokesman said in a phone conversation. “If our partners are ever in a position where they don’t feel comfortable completing a task, they are empowered to remove themselves from the situation and alert their manager.”

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