Torbay Council changes to clinical waste collection labelled ‘disgusting’

rotavirusChanges in the way that Torbay Council collects clinical waste, but now to exclude disposable nappies, have been called ‘disgusting’.

From July 21, all residents who have yellow bag collections might be affected by the changes that means that some material, including nappies and human faeces, will now be collected alongside other household waste.

Around 500 households will be affected by the changes which Torbay Council have said is satisfactory, but residents who are concerned by this have said it is absolutely awful and wrong and one of the most ridiculous ideas ever

Dennis Faulkner, from Torridge Avenue, Torquay, added: “I think this is disgusting and wrong. It will cause smells, disease and the spread of vermin. It is the most dangerous, ridiculous and disgusting idea I have ever heard.

My neighbour is 98 and I try to help him out a bit, but now things such as nappies will now be thrown in with normal waste.

“It is absolutely disgusting and I cannot believe that they are doing this. This is unbelievable and everyone that I have spoken to thinks so. It is ridiculous.

“Now that things are going in the normal bins it smells absolutely awful and it is pretty disgusting.”


Any change to waste collection arrangements will bring complaints. However, it’s hard to see what this chap finds so “disgusting” since disposable nappies are a modern substitute for the traditional terry nappies. As terry nappies make yet another comeback, it is necessary to thing what happens to these. They are emptied into the toilet, but rarely would a parent wear gloves. Afterwards, hands should be washed, but even that is not certain.

Nappies may be soaked in a dilute solution of Milton until sufficient have accumulated to fill the washing machine. Hung out to dry, or tumbled then places across a radiator, would this chap stop to thing that his shirts and undies are regularly washed in the same washing machine. And the tablecloth!

It is therefore quite ridiculous to call this change and diversion of disposable nappies from the clinical waste stream as ‘disgusting’.

But there is a slight twist to this, that Mr Faulkner, Torbay Council officers or those wonderfully clever people at the Environment Agency have never dreamt of.

Firstly, those who have recently received oral polio vaccine – not routinely used in the UK but still common worldwide, will shed live but weakened polio virus in the stool. This can affect susceptible individuals who are exposed by the faecal-oral route.

Similarly, the oral rotavirus vaccine, routinely given to all babies at around 2 months, result in excretion for some time afterwards of the live to weakened virus. Notwithstanding, this requires care in the prevention of infection by the faecal-oral route, either directly or through secondary contamination, especially for susceptible individuals such as the elderly, those receiving chemotherapy or radiotherapy, and others with reduced immune capacity.

So, as always there is a little truth in Mr Faulkner’s complaint, but not quite that which he had anticipated.

Simple household hygiene will almost always suffice, as will routine PPE and hygiene arrangements be adequate for the health and safety of waste handlers.

And as an afterthought, is it feasible to collect those millions of disposable nappies as an additional anaerobic digestion feedstock?



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