The data was forwarded to the Lusa agency by the Portuguese Pharmacy Association (AFP), which explained that the Syringes project only in Agulhão consists of pharmacies providing a container, where citizens can deposit used waste free of charge. "The project is developed in partnership with the company specialised in the management of hospital waste, Stericycle, which collects containers and treats waste [incineration], thus responding to the lack of safe and ecological solutions for collecting used syringes".
Launched as a pilot project at the end of 2019, it aims to respond “to the lack of solutions for the collection of waste produced by diabetic patients and by all those who need injectable drugs”. Speaking to Lusa agency, the president of AFP, Manuela Pacheco, announced that Torres Vedras will be the first municipality with 100 percent coverage of its pharmacy network to collect syringes/needles used by patients free of charge. This is because the Agulhão project was one of the most voted on by citizens in the Participatory Budget. The 23 pharmacies in the municipality have joined the participating pharmacies in the municipalities of Lisbon, Porto, Matosinhos, Vila Nova de Gaia, Gondomar, Braga and Vila Verde.
Manuela Pacheco said she was “happy” about this decision, but admitted that she could “be even happier” if the project were implemented throughout the country. “The ones who win the project are those who voted and who voted was the population”, she said, considering it was “a great victory” because the population recognised their interest in dealing with a public health and environmental issue.
The president of the AFP also said that she hopes that the impact that the project will have in Torres Vedras will have an effect outside the municipality and that others will receive it and, "even better", that the Ministry of Health would recognize it as "important for the country as a whole and implement it at the national level, which is the projects ultimate goal ”. She also noted that the amount allocated to this project for the municipality "is residual", five thousand euros for a year, compared to what it "earns in public and environmental health".
“Everything will be collected in pharmacies and treated, it doesn't go to the environment, it doesn't go to household garbage to be treated like potato and egg shells”, emphasized Manuela Pacheco. From a legal point of view, waste produced by self-medicated patients, in their homes, does not fit the definition of hospital waste, being profiled as urban waste, and users are responsible for managing it as such. Unable to be delivered to pharmacies, hospitals or health centres, this waste ends up in household waste, endangering public health and the environment.