Recycled hospital waste to helpt ‘desperate’ children in Africa

Pharmaceutical firm Adcock Ingram Critical Care has joined forces with a group of local hospitals and waste management businesses to recycle medical waste in the Johannesburg area of South Africa. The end product? Shoes for underprivileged children.

Previously-landfilled medical plastic waste such as tubes and drip bags are now being collected from two hospitals in Pretoria for recycling. These have already been transformed into shoes for youngsters attending Zandspruit primary school, explains Johannesburg’s mayor Herman Mashaba.

The new initiative is said to offer a safe way to create functional products from local medical waste – comprising mostly PVC – while also boosting employment in the area.

More hospitals and schools are in talks to join the project.

Turning hospital plastics into school furniture such chairs and tables is the next step, according to Colin Sheen, project manager for Adcock Ingram Critical Care. The recycled products will benefit children living in rural areas close to the city of Johannesburg who are ‘desperate’ and ‘need help the most’.

This sounds like an excellent initiative. It may be me, but do you wonder if it entirely safe? If previously landfilled, might these wastes have previously been landfilled without and pretence of treatment to make them safe? And now, those same wastes that may be contaminated with potentially harmful pathogens and/or drug substances will be diverted to recycling. Will the workers be safe and protected from unwanted exposure? Will segregation at source be sufficiently robust to remove any change of stray sharps entering this waste reprocessing system?

Let’s hope all is well. It’s a great idea to support those in desperate need.

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