Three men have been charged by authorities in Nanjing, China, with procuring and selling medical waste that may have been reprocessed into plastic toys and other products, according to reports in the South China Morning Post (SCMP) and Singapore’s Straits Times.
The suspects allegedly purchased items such as used hypodermic needles, IV bags, bottles and tubes from area hospitals, writes the Straits Times, and then resold them to processing plants, where they were recycled and converted into pellets. The pellets were sold online to plastics factories around the world, according to the SCMP. Since many of these medical products are made of polypropylene and polyethylene, it is possible that this material found its way into plastic toys and tableware, the police told the SCMP.
Authorities estimate that the suspects trafficked more than 3000 tonnes of discarded material, worth approximately 40 million yuan ($5.5 million).
Under Chinese law, medical waste must be disposed of following strict procedures. Violators can be jailed for up to seven years, reports the SCMP.