The Chinese approach to recycling?

The Chinese market for clinical waste management is massive but remains largely unexploited due to the problems associate with breaking into the Eastern market, of attitudes to safe disposal that takes such a back seat the actual market is both flimsy and unpredictable, and the many political and other issues that make the Chinese market so difficult.

Recycling, particularly recycling of clinical (medical) wastes is a thorny subject, ripe for exploitation, technologically and environmentally sound, but at least in the UK effectively obstructed by regulators  – and not for any demonstrably valid reason but more due to the personal ‘position’ of individuals within the Environment Agency. Looking to the East, China is perhaps taking a lead though not in the way we might wish for.

The Beijing Ministry of Health has has launched an investigation in the wake of a media report in South Korea about capsules from China – made from the flesh of dead babies– being used as stamina boosters!

China claims strict management of the disposal of infant and fetal remains as well as placentas. “Any practice that handles the remains as medical waste is strictly prohibited.” According to the country’s regulations, medical institutions and their staff are prohibited from trading corpses.

The Global Times reported on Monday that SBS, one of the three major national television networks in South Korea, broadcast a documentary on Aug 6 about the appearance of capsules from China containing dead baby flesh.

It has long been a folk tradition to eat placentas in China – and remains as a trendy event among some UK mothers also. Placentas are believed to make up sperm and support the sufficiency of blood in traditional Chinese medicine. In China, placentas belong to mothers of newborns. Medical institutions will handle a placenta if a mother gives it up or donates it. Nobody is allowed to sell or buy placentas according to the regulation from the Ministry of Health.

But, according to reports, it seems to be the case that Chinese medicine consumes all in the hope of a “cure”, providing a novel if inappropriate recycling option for tissues and clinical wastes.


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