Plastic seals on restaurant utensils made with medical

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Global Times, October 21, 2010
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Those airtight wrappers used to seal restaurant utensils to keep them safe and clean could be making people sick, according to a recent report, which said the wraps are made from recycled medical waste containers.

A scavenger collects medical waste at a dump in Luoyang, Henan Province. Some companies use medical waste containers to make seals for restaurant utensils.

A scavenger collects medical waste at a dump in Luoyang, Henan Province. Some companies use medical waste containers to make seals for restaurant utensils. 

Although bowls and plates are washed, the wraps could be carrying countless germs if not properly treated, experts said.

Beijing-based China Economic Weekly reported Tuesday that many of the plastic wraps used by restaurants or even food packages in Daqing, Heilongjiang Province, are made with medical waste.

Many plastic factories in Daqing use recycled particles to make new products, including plastic bags, because they are generally 2,000 yuan to 4,000 yuan ($300 to $600) cheaper per ton.

Zhou Zijun, a public health expert at the Peking University, told the Global Times that the single-use medical tools used in hospitals for treatment and surgery often have dangerous and contagious germs.

"Medical waste must be handled with care. If not properly treated, medical waste can be very dangerous to those who have been in contact with it, including people who are recycling it and people who are processing it," said Zhou.

One factory owner was quoted as saying in the report that he was aware of the potential harmful effects of medical waste on human health.

"However, as long as it cuts cost, nobody will ask where the plastic came from," he said.

At a recycling station, 20 tons of untreated medical wastes, including plastic drip bags, syringes and tubes were piled. The report said liquids and even urine were found in the tubes.

Deadly mix

Medical waste is even mixed with other daily garbage in another recycling station, and the owner said they sell the waste to factories without classification.

Other cities have seen the same dangerous practice.

According to a China Central Television (CCTV) report on September 17, medical waste is recycled like daily garbage and are turned into plastic products, such as water bottles, in Zhoukou, Henan Province.

Zhou also mentioned that although plastic medical waste can be legally recycled and reused, the plastic must be washed, treated and disinfected at a high temperature or anaerobic reactions.

According to the Medical Waste Management Regulation issued in 2003, medical waste refers to infectious, toxic and other dangerous waste produced during medical treatment and general healthcare.

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