A recycling boss is asking Moray residents to spare a thought for the adults with learning disabilities who process their waste.
Ian Robertson says they are faced with needles, dirty nappies, knives and car parts to sort through on a regular basis.
Moray Council recently highlighted that a supervisor pricked their finger through a glove on a needle at the council’s materials recovery facility in Lossiemouth, operated by Moray Reach Out.
Fortunately the staff member had blood tests which came back negative – however the council has been urging people to dispose of needles safely in sharps boxes.
Mr Robertson, operations manager for Moray Reach Out, explained that the charity offers work placements and training to people with special needs.
The worker who was injured was a member of staff, but Mr Robertson would like the public to realise that the recycling team sorting through waste from residents’ purple bins are volunteers and are adults with learning disabilities.
He wants to public to realise the danger they are putting these people in with their irresponsible dumping.
He said: “The purple bins are meant for recyclables such as milk bottles, drinks containers, tin cans, and yet they are full of dirty nappies, used needles, knives, car parts and even engine oil.”
He said that 12 needles were found in the recycle bins last month alone.
Mr Robertson said: “I certainly think that because of who the workforce are the public should be a bit more sympathetic and clean up their act.
“A lot of these people would be sitting at home doing nothing, the aim is to provide meaningful employment and training placements. We have got systems in place to protect the volunteers. They just love doing it and being a help. I’m just asking the public to have a heart.
“I want to protect my troops. At any one time we can have 10 people on the picking line at Lossiemouth.”
Moray Council’s Waste Manager, Mike Neary, said: “Thanks to the overwhelming majority of residents who make full and responsible use of our comprehensive kerbside recycling scheme, ensuring we maintain one of the highest recycling rates in the country.
“However incidents of irresponsible disposal are not acceptable. Moray Reach Out provide an excellent service and meaningful work for Moray residents, and no volunteer or member of staff should not be put at risk from contaminated recycling.”