International shipments of untreated clinical wastes

There are many small island and otherwise isolated communities producing clinical wastes that must be shipped long distances and perhaps across national borders in order to reach a satisfactory treatment facility.

It makes politicians, and environmentalists, shudder that transnational clinical shipments take place. In the EU, it is robustly prohibited except in the most extreme of circumstances, even where two towns sit close by either side of a border where they might logically share a combined treatment facility – what happens if Scotland does eventually become independent?

These shipments are usually permitted when the volumes are so small that it makes no economic sense to treat locally. Examples in the first world might include the Isle of Man, Isle of Wight and the Scillies, though only in the first instance are there real issues of cross-border shipment.

Go to the third world countries and scattered populations together with sometimes critically limited finances make shipment not only a reasonable option, irrespective of international standards. And there are of course additional public health advantages, to ensure wastes that might otherwise be illicitly “recycled” are put beyond reuse without deep burial and possible contamination of ground water.

So what about New Zealand? It isn’t a third world country, and I am pretty certain it would class itself as first world rather than second. So it is a particular surprise that it seeks to export its clinical wastes to Australia.


120 tonnes of presumably raw clinical wastes, most likely sharps, pharma wastes and cytotoxics, seemingly by air from New Zealand to Australia for disposal by high temperature incineration!

Buying an incinerator might be a practical solution that would eliminate significant storage problems and its associated costs, plus freight costs and the cost of administration etc. Or an array of smaller lower cost equivalent treatment devices such as the Pyropure device.

New Zealand is not resource poor and has a more than adequate infrastructure to bring together its entire clinical waste output for treatment at one of more selected locations, perhaps with one each on the north and South Islands. After all, it has managed to get 12 tonnes to Auckland airport without difficulty!

Greenpeace have a long, and at times aggressive presence in New Zealand. I wonder what Greenpeace and similar environmental pressure groups will say about this?


see UK university trials emerging clinical waste disposal technology

and Ebola waste treatment – a new kid on the block?




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