This unique buyback program aims to reduce needle litter in Boston

September 22, 2021

The effort eases a nuisance, but doesn’t solve the growing problems of addiction and drug use on city streets.

An unusual program has cleaned up hundreds of thousands of discarded needles in Boston by buying them from homeless people who collect them from streets and parks, city officials say.

Since it began last December, the Community Syringe Redemption Program has collected more than 768,000 needles and reduced complaints by 50 percent, and it now picks up an average of 17,000 a week, according to the program’s data. It also provides a link to social services and addiction treatment for participants, who often lack shelter or use drugs themselves.