A pilot project is aiming at getting needles off the streets, away from residents and into safe containers.

The City of Cambridge has introduced a unique receptacle that takes more than trash: it accepts biohazard sharps.

The city is testing out a single receptacle in Galt in response to the thousands of needles found littered around the city last year.

At first glance, it looks just like a trash can, but it has a special, locking drop box that lets needles in and keeps hands out.

“We thought we would try to redesign a new model that fits the downtown aesthetic but still meets the public safety need,” explains Brian Geerts with the city.

It’s a need that Cambridge cleanup crews know all too well. Last year, they picked up 12,321 needles, Geerts says.

The bins serve as an outdoor alternative to the bright yellow sharps disposal bins often found in public restrooms. The city found that some users were uncomfortable using those bins, calling them too conspicuous.

Lynette Kelly says she lost relatives to overdoses. She supports the pilot project.

“They’re already here,” she says. “It’s not going to bring more needles, it’s going to have somewhere safe to put them.”

The bins cost $1,000, and if the first one in the project is well-used, the project may be expanded. A similar project has existed in Windsor since 2017.

Health officials advise not to touch sharps if you see them and aren’t use to them, recommending instead that you call or email the city for crews to dispose of them safely.