Fined for dumping clinical (medicines) waste

Some of the medical waste dumped by the roadside in Metheringham.UK ‘man with a van’ is fined for dumping household refuse and unwanted prescription drugs.

A man who dumped a significant stash of prescription medicines on a country lane after being paid to dispose of it properly has been ordered to pay more than £2,500 in court costs and fines.

Callam Harness (25), of Kennedy Road, Washingborough, was paid £30 by a woman in Potterhanworth to remove her waste, believing it would be taken to the local household recycling centre and disposed of properly.

It was, however, found in January dumped on the side of the road at Bloxholme Lane, Metheringham – containing a substantial amount of medication, including tablets and pills which could have caused significant harm to the public, along with cardboard, carpet and old letters which pointed to the waste’s origins.

When interviewed by North Kesteven District Council officers, Harness admitted collecting the waste but denied depositing it, saying he had leant his van to a man in the pub who had deposited it. He denied running a waste collection business despite Facebook adverts promoting himself as ‘a man with a van’ available to collect waste.

The picture shows some of the unwanted prescription drugs found in the dumped waste.

 He was charged with five offences contrary to the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and Control of Pollution (Amendment) Act 1989, including the transporting of controlled waste in the course of a business or otherwise, with a view to profit without legal registration to do so and depositing controlled waste, or knowingly cause or knowingly permitted controlled waste to be deposited on any land not authorised under an environmental permit.

At Lincoln Magistrates Court on Thursday (July 2) he pleaded guilty to all five offences. He was fined a total of £2,523.10 (including costs). This included a fine of £1,680, costs £600, compensation to NKDC £123.10 and victim surcharge of £120.

The case also resulted in North Kesteven District Council successfully obtaining its first Criminal Behaviour Order, preventing Harness from transporting controlled waste without the relevant licenses and proper authorisation, for two years.

Although she had given officers all of the details she had for Harness, the resident herself was issued with a warning letter advising her that she should have taken steps to ensure that he was authorised to accept it.

Coun Richard Wright, NKDC’s executive board member responsible for waste management and enforcement, said this case highlighted the need for householders to ensure they were only using authorised waste handlers and for anyone operating a waste handling business to have the proper licences, or risk being caught out and fined.

Thanks to the Sleaford Standard for this report.

Clearly, at the bottom end of the business there are a substantial number of unlicensed individuals happy to take cash for rubbish clearance who will then succumb to the temptation of dumping this at some quiet location in the expectation that they will not be caught. Fortunately, on this occasion he got his comeuppance.

Perhaps the issue might have been different, at least for the pharma waste, if there were better arrangements for free and accessible pharma waste disposal, at GP clinics or at the pharmacist shop. There are thought to be many individuals stockpiling unwanted medicines like this, both prescription medications and OTC products. The full prescribed course was not taken, and GPs and others have obviously over-prescribed, and often issued repeat prescriptions without due diligence. Over time the products deteriorate, and in some cases may result in accidental poisoning, of children, or in more deliberate self-harm.

Recent trends by GP services and community health administrations have been to blame the patients, for having the temerity to request a repeat prescription. But fault lies with the prescriber, and in the absence of free (for the individual) collection and safe disposal of unwanted medicines in a properly funded national arrangement. Perhaps having to contribute to the disposal bill will encourage GPs and their commissioning groups to put more effort into rational and safe prescribing, to reduce the waste accumulation in this way. And in the meantime, go for the little guy who can’t fight back and has none of the political power of the GPs.

It really does seem as if this broken system could be fixed quickly and easily, particularly if the Environment Agency were to stand up to the plate and make a commitment to bring together all relevant parties and facilitate some positive action. So why not?


see also NHS unveils plans to cut £300m worth of medicines waste

see also Waste prescription drugs – still blaming patients?



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.