Tampa recycler blames firm for mislabeling 4 million lbs medical waste

A Tampa recycler is accusing a waste disposal company of mislabeling millions of pounds of medical waste – including bloody bandages and fluid bags – leading it to be incorrectly treated as recyclables.

Stericycle is an Illinois-based medical waste disposal company operating in 23 countries with revenues of $2.655-billion for fiscal year 2016.

A&M Metals is a scrap yard and recycling facility located at 4902 S. 50th St. In Tampa. Alexander Gregory and Larry Gregory are listed as managing member and authorized member, respectively. Scrap King is A&M’s sister company, which also operates a recycling facility at 5002 Dover St. In Tampa. Alexander Gregory and Larry Gregory are also president and authorized member, respectively.

In 2013, Scrap King signed a two-year contract to process “recyclable materials” from a Stericycle facility at 4245 Maine Ave in Lakeland. The contract specifically prohibited “regulated medical waste.”

A&M later discovered that “recyclable materials” brought to its scrap yard included “bloody bandages, used sharps, used medicine containers, used needles, used batteries, waste containers and red bags full of fluids, numerous bottles with residue of pharmaceuticals, including included narcotics in excess of the 3 percent limit that would trigger a special category of waste handling, and other infectious, disease-carrying materials.”

Before learning of the allegedly fraudulent mislabeling, A&M officials estimate it illegally processed roughly 4-million pounds of medical waste, resulting in an investigation by both the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Hillsborough County health department for regulatory violations.

The lawsuit, filed by A&M January 9 in Hillsborough County’s 13th Judicial Circuit Court, accuses Stericycle of fraud, leading to a “loss of business reputation and customer base, pollution and contamination of the property, cost of remediation and regulatory compliance, loss of profits, and costs incurred in preparing to recycle the metal.”

The Stericycle website – with the tagline “We Protect What Matters” – says this about hazardous waste: “As the leading provider of medical waste disposal services, protecting people and the environment from the risks associated with biohazards is at the heart of what we do. Hundreds of thousands of customers trust Stericycle to manage their biohazardous waste disposal.”

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