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  1. Moderator
  2. Supply chain and logistics
  3. Tuesday, 20 September 2005
POST 00835E : DESTRUCTION OF PLASTIC SYRINGES Follow-up on Posts 00819E, 00824E, 00830E and 00832E 20 September 2005 _____________________________________ Ville Lehto ( from Finland contributes again on the topic, commenting on Anil Varshney's suggestions (Post 00830E). It is followed by a short comment by the moderator...again! _____________________________________ Sorry for my late reaction again! I saw posting 00830E, and I have to admit I was quite surprised with Anil's recommendation. The uncontrolled burning of plastics in general is seldom pollution-free. Burning a small amount at a time creates a small amount of emission at a time. Indeed dividing the amount of material in smaller loads doesn't help if the total amount is the same (many small loads of waste, many small amounts of emissions), unless it somehow improves the process (like less syringes, more air in a tin box). What emissions are created depends on the inputs (waste, fuel). Without any preheating the temperature is unlikely to reach 800 C (at least from the beginning) and furans and dioxins are likely to form should there be any chlorine-containing components involved. In addition to the inputs also the burning conditions (temperature, air supply, humidity...) affect the results. As these conditions are not fixed in the uncontrolled burning, also the results (emissions) will vary. Saving the forests by forgetting about the safety boxes is a question of values. We can't achieve perfect environmental performance and perfect safety at the same time. Instead there is a trade off situation where any extreme value seldom turns out to be the best. When it comes to safety boxes, my personal opinion is that the value of the enhanced safety is bigger than the lost environmental value of the amount of the trees needed to manufacture them, especially if the material is taken from a source that meets the requirements of sustainable forestry. But as mentioned this is a question of values, and probably everyone has an own opinion about where to draw the line. I agree with Anil about the benefits of on-site solution. Many times the costs and emissions created by the additional steps like transporting are higher than the achieved benefits. Naturally when all the requirements for recycling exist (large amounts, short distances, buyer for the recycled material) it is good to take the material back to the industrial system. I hope this is useful! Kind regards, Ville Lehto Marketing Manager Mediburner Ltd , Oulu , FINLAND --------------------------- Moderator's comment : This whole issue of the best way to dispose of sharps doesn't seem clear to me at all. Both Anil and Ville agree on benefits of solutions at the point of use. But it is obvious that burning syringes whether in the safety-box or in a tin container will produce persistent pollutants, thus contrary to the Stockholm Convention. Burning of safety boxes doesn't reach by far a high enough temperature to be clean. Added up all over the world, then it means pollution on a significant scale. Are organizations signing international agreements and then turn a blind eye on practices they recommend? It seems that the vaccine delivery systems in place could be conveniently used to collect safety boxes at a negligible marginal cost and then boxes incinerated in a controlled manner whether at district or provincial level where adequate facilities exist, instead of on-site. Isn't it what WHO indeed recommends, I believe? ______________________________________________________________________________ Visit the TECHNET21 Website at You will find instructions to subscribe, a direct access to archives, links to reference documents and other features. ______________________________________________________________________________ To UNSUBSCRIBE, send a message to : Leave the subject area BLANK In the message body, write unsubscribe TECHNET21E ______________________________________________________________________________ The World Health Organization and UNICEF support TechNet21. The TechNet21 e-Forum is a communication/information tool for generation of ideas on how to improve immunization services. It is moderated by Claude Letarte and is hosted in cooperation with the Centre de coopération internationale en santé et développement, Québec, Canada ( ______________________________________________________________________________

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