Saturday, October 15, 2011

A really unfortunate twist in Brazil's recycling miracle

There was a big kerfuffle back in 2009 when a boatload of hospital waste including syringes and catheters showed up at the port of Santos, under the innocouos label of recyclable aluminum cans. The British Embassy even stepped in and apologized after the it surfaced that the cargo had been brought in by a group of limeys. Last year when an entire cargo of soiled diapers was slipped in on a ship purporting to carry something else. Yuck.

This week, yet another boat carrying hospital trash that showed up at the Port of Suape in Pernambuco was quickly sniffed out (no pun intended) by authorities -- but apparently not quick enough. In a revolting twist on this unfortunate business, hospital blankets stained with blood and other bodily fluids have been removed from that shipment and are being resold by the kilo in informal markets in the nearby city of Santa Cruz do Capibaribe. They include some from Baltimore Washington Medical Center and Medline Industries Inc that match those impounded by authorities from that boat. Reporter Fabio Guibu even managed  to buy some of it.

I've always been impressed by Brazil's capacity to recycle. I'm can't say I'm impressed by this.

Whoever did this has come up with a pretty good trick. The trash mafia usually gets paid to carry off a cargo of something toxic and then pays somebody off to slip it into a landfill or under a carpet somewhere. Whoever pulled off this latest trick got paid cash for picking up some biohazardous material and then got paid again to get rid of it. Unfortunate entrepreurship indeed ...

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