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To Protect Employees, Starbucks Will Install Needle-Disposal Boxes in Stores

After Starbucks employees found blood, discarded needles, and syringes in bathrooms, the Seattle-based company has plans to install needle-disposal boxes in some locations. The hard plastic containers, known as Sharps boxes and identified by their bright red color, allow people to dispose of sharp medical items that would pierce a trash bag.

The coffee giant’s decision corresponds to the national opioid epidemic. More than 3,700 workers signed a petition asking Starbucks to place needle-disposal boxes in high-risk public bathrooms.

A company spokesperson told USA Today that the Sharps boxes will help prevent employees from being exposed to infectious diseases including HIV and hepatitis. The boxes will be located in the bathrooms of stores in select markets based on foot traffic, among other factors.

“These societal issues affect us all and can sometimes place our partners (employees) in scary situations,” the spokesperson said. “Which is why we have protocols and resources in place to ensure our partners are out of harm’s way.”

Last year, Starbucks faced backlash after two black men were arrested after they asked to use a restroom without making a purchase. Shortly thereafter, the company announced it would allow the public to use the bathroom “100% of the time”, regardless of whether a purchase is made.

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