Toxic hospital waste attracts EPA fine

A shipment of hospital waste exposed to toxic chemicals has been secured and sent for proper disposal, during an investigation by the Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA).

According to EPA Western Metropolitan Regional Manager Stephen Lansdell, the waste was found at a container depot in Altona.

“EPA officers found two shipping containers that had been sitting for more than two weeks at the premises of Melbourne Container Transport, in Kororoit Creek Rd,” he said.

“Inside, they found plastic-wrapped pallet loads of cardboard boxes and plastic containers carrying surgical masks, gowns, gloves and other items used by doctors when applying cytotoxic chemicals used in some cancer treatments.”

The EPA has fined the company $8261 for depositing industrial waste at a site that is not licensed to accept that type of waste.

“The contents of the containers were safely incinerated by a licensed company on the day they were opened for inspection,” Mr Lansdell said.

“While it was resolved without any hazard to people’s health, a case like this is disappointing because businesses have a clear responsibility to know the rules and do the right thing by the environment and the community.”

Under the Environment Protection Act 1970 and the Infringements Act 2006, the company has the right to have the decision reviewed, or alternatively to have the matter heard and determined by a court.

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PVC Recycling in Hospitals scheme to reach 150 hospitals by end of 2018

The Vinyl Council of Australia aims to expand its PVC Recycling in Hospitals program to cover 150 hospitals by the end of 2018.

After launching in 2009, the recycling program has grown to operate in 138 hospitals throughout Australia and New Zealand. It is managed by the the Vinyl Council of Australia and its member partners: Baxter Healthcare, Aces Medical Waste and Welvic Australia.

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More than 200 tonnes of PVC waste from hospitals has been diverted from landfill to recycling over the past year. The material is redirected to reprocessors, which use the recycled polymer in new products such as garden hoses and outdoor playground matting.

The program partners also explore designs for new product applications for the material generated through the program.

Vinyl Council Chief Executive Sophi MacMillan says thanks to the great support and enthusiasm from healthcare professionals, the PVC Recycling in Hospitals program is now operating in every state in Australia, except the Northern Territory.

“It’s a great example of how the healthcare sector can demonstrate leadership in PVC sustainability and recover high quality material that can be genuinely recycled locally for use in new products,” Ms MacMillan said.

“We are currently looking at further end product applications for the recyclate.

“New South Wales is one of our priorities given it only has 11 hospitals participating in the program at the moment. As the state with the biggest population in Australia, the opportunity to grow the program there is really good.”

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