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January 10, 2019

Starbucks to install needle-deposit boxes in bathrooms of select U.S. stores

Concern for safety as employees find syringes in restrooms

Addiction Needles
Stock_Carroll - Starbucks Coffee Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

The Starbucks coffeeshop on North 20th Street in Philadelphia.

Starbucks will install boxes for the safe disposal of needles and syringes in the bathrooms of certain U.S. stores after employees have reported finding blood and discarded needles and syringes, Business Insider reports.

According to USA Today, more than 3,700 baristas had signed a petition asking Starbucks to place needle-disposal boxes in its high-risk bathrooms as of Wednesday. The workers are campaigning for 4,000 signatures on Coworkers.org, a global platform used to advance change in the workplace.

The chain’s decision was made to solve an issue that could expose workers to hazardous health concerns including HIV and hepatitis, a Starbucks spokesperson told USA Today. But the company is testing other solutions, including using heavier-duty trash bags to prevent needle pokes, and removing trash cans from certain bathrooms, in addition to the sharps boxes, Business Insider reports.


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Starbucks already trains its employees on how to safely deal with hypodermic needles. According to the company, any employee who feels unsafe performing a task is encouraged to speak with his or her manager and will not be made to perform the action, according to the Business Insider report.

Starbucks has been very receptive to public health needs in light of the case of racial profiling in a Center City Philadelpha Starbucks that made national news last April. Since then, the organization has made all of its restrooms public, when they were previously accessed by a code. 

PhillyVoice contacted Starbucks to see if we can expect these drop-boxes in Philadelphia and South Jersey stores. A company spokesperson responded in an email: "We are evaluating on a market-by-market basis and do not have any further details to share."

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