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Cleaning and waste disposal has certainly hit the headlines this week, hasn't it?
I think the story that's elicited the biggest reaction by far, is the news that Healthcare Environment Services has been stripped of its 15 NHS clinical waste disposal contracts in England following the discovery of what has been quoted as 'hundreds of tonnes of human body parts and organs piling up at facilities'. The contractor was found to have breached its permits at five sites and a criminal investigation has been launched.
Why on earth were things allowed to get so bad? Apparently, the Government became aware of problems back in July, and one of the sites in West Yorkshire, was found to be storing 350 tonnes of medical waste - five times more than the contract allows. And although the waste was stored securely, with body parts in refrigerated units, it should have been processed and disposed of within a certain timescale and it wasn't.
HES is reported to have blamed ageing infrastructure causing prolonged breakdowns, and green policies such as 'zero waste to landfill' policies, together with a reduction in the UK's high-temperature incineration capacity, for its tardiness in incinerating the waste. It's saying that the amount of waste produced by the NHS for incineration far outweighs the entire incineration capabilities of the UK. It also claims that anatomical waste only accounted for 1% of the overall tonnage involved, so once again the national press has sensationalised the story by conjuring up grizzly images of piles of stinking waste with body parts spilling out!
I understand that Mitie has stepping in to ensure the safe removal of this waste and knowing that the world will be watching, I'm sure it will go some way to redeeming the benefits of these services in everyone's eyes. However, if as HES says, the volume of waste that requires incineration is simply too great for our resources to handle, Mitie is going to face an uphill struggle.
Also facing an uphill struggle are the people of Liverpool, with the University of Liverpool and John Moores University joining several businesses and supermarkets by removing the City Council's contracted litter officials because they were issuing fines to those dropping litter, upsetting them and causing financial stress. I've often talked about the need to educate our young people not to litter. The sacking of litter officials because they're upsetting litter louts, is not the way to go about it!
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11th October 2018