This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: The Podcast” features Erin Tenderholt, founder of a Madison-based startup called Blexx.

Tenderholt has created a new patent-pending technology in hopes of improving how people dispose of hypodermic needles.

“This cost is bigger than you imagine. Ask a nurse, ask a tattoo parlor, ask a funeral home director about their experience with hypodermic needles,” she said. “The time to change this is now.”

She notes that Americans go through 7 billion hypodermic needles each year. The current method of disposal requires several logistical steps, including a disposal unit, transportation and storage resulting in incineration off-site.

“This long process is costly, unsafe and terrible for the environment,” she said.

To improve that process, Tenderholt has created a prototype device — about the size of a large water bottle — which can sanitize and destroy needles within seconds.

“We make needle disposal safer by having less people come in contact with contaminated needles,” she said. “We make it way cheaper by eliminating unnecessary processes, and we are reducing unnecessary plastic waste and carbon emissions by trucking.”

Blexx was the audience vote winner of the recent Elevator Pitch Olympics, held in Madison by the Wisconsin Technology Council as part of the Early Stage Symposium. Listen to the podcast here.