Med­i­cal waste turned into table­ware, toys

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By CANG WEI in Nan­jing cang­wei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Po­lice in Nan­jing, Jiangsu prov­ince, ar­rested three sus­pects who al­legedly traded thou­sands of tons of med­i­cal waste that was later pro­cessed into disposable table­ware and fake brand-name toys.

Nan­jing po­lice in Au­gust re­ceived re­ports from res­i­dents that piles of med­i­cal waste were stored at a dump site near Gu­jia vil­lage, in­clud­ing used nee­dles, glass bot­tles and in­fu­sion tubes.

They later found that the three sus­pects had sold more than 3,000 met­ric tons of med­i­cal waste, which they had col­lected from hos­pi­tals in Nan­jing since the be­gin­ning of 2012. They earned more than 40 mil­lion yuan ($5.8 mil­lion) from sell­ing the waste.

The sus­pects paid each hos­pi­tal 800 to 1,000 yuan per month to col­lect their waste, while some large hos­pi­tals pro­duced more than 10 met­ric tons of waste. Then they hired work­ers to clas­sify the waste, com­pressed the disposable plas­tic in­fu­sion bags and bot­tles, and fi­nally smashed them into plas­tic par­ti­cles.

The sus­pects con­fessed that the plas­tic par­ti­cles were sold to many plas­tic prod­uct fac­to­ries across the coun­try for 2,200 to 2,800 yuan per met­ric ton, the po­lice said.

“China only al­lows au­tho­rized com­pa­nies spe­cial­iz­ing in med­i­cal waste to en­gage in such busi­ness,” said a po­lice­man sur­named Qi. “Trained work­ers, spe­cial­ized con­tain­ers and trans­porta­tion ve­hi­cles are re­quired be­fore med­i­cal waste is burned and buried in cer­tain sites.”

To mon­i­tor the med­i­cal waste treat­ment, Nan­jing Health In­spec­tion Bureau said in Au­gust that med­i­cal waste should be clas­si­fied and sent to spe­cial treat­ment agen­cies, and that the waste can­not be treated by unau­tho­rized groups.

Ac­cord­ing to po­lice, high prof­its drove the sus­pects and the hos­pi­tals to vi­o­late the treat­ment reg­u­la­tions. The sus­pects could earn more than 20,000 yuan from the waste pro­duced by one large hos­pi­tal ev­ery month.

Com­pared with us­ing spe­cial­ized treat­ment com­pa­nies, which charge to treat med­i­cal waste, a hos­pi­tal pro­duc­ing 10 met­ric tons of med­i­cal waste could save more than 500,000 yuan a year through il­le­gal dis­posal of such waste.

The sus­pects have been pros­e­cuted for crimes of en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­lu­tion.

Zhou Lin, a lawyer with Yicheng Law Firm in Jiangsu, said that ac­cord­ing to crim­i­nal law, those who se­verely pol­lute the en­vi­ron­ment can re­ceive up to three years in prison, while those caus­ing ex­treme dam­age can be sen­tenced to be­tween three and seven years in prison plus a fine.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Large piles of med­i­cal waste

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