US Creative Way to Get Rid of Hospital Waste and Make a Buck: Exporting It to Brazil

US's hospital waste In the United States somebody found out he could solve the problem of hospital waste management by exporting the stuff to Brazil. Tons of it have been arriving in containers labeled “defective fabric.” Among bloody bed sheets and dirty diapers – dirty with you-know-what – are used syringes and catheters.

The governor of Pernambuco, where the stuff landed, says the people responsible for the sale of hospital waste is the US customs agency and that he intends to get the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Relations to do something about it.

The governor, Eduardo Campos, met with businessmen and employees at a local garment district (Polo de Confecções do Agreste) where the textile firm is located that owns the warehouses where the imported material was found.

Campos was upset that the goods had been allowed out of the port of Charleston, South Carolina, for delivery at Suape, in Pernambuco.

On October 14, inspectors discovered two containers with over 46 tons of hospital waste. Immediately, the IRS (Receita Federal), the Civil Police and federal and state health officials closed a store and two warehouses where the “defective fabric” was being stored.

They belong to a company called Intimacy (Na Intimidade ). Authorities suspect that the material they have now impounded is part of a larger shipment of six containers that arrived earlier and was not inspected.

The governor has begun an educational campaign to clean up the damage to the image of the garment district. Campos is duly concerned that Brazil’s second biggest garment manufacturing center, located in his state, where over 20,000 companies are installed, employing 150,000 people, in an area with over 700 stores, six food courts and accommodations for 3,000 buyers to spend the night, must be protected.

Following the interdiction of a store and at least one warehouse belonging to a garment manufacturer in the state of Pernambuco, authorities are now pretty sure that hospital waste from the United States has been coming into Brazil for years where it was used to make clothing.

Two establishments closed down by health officials are located in the towns of Santa Cruz do Capibaribe and Toritama. Both belong to the same company, Na Intimidade, that uses the trade name “Forro de Bolso,” which, as it translates as “pocket liner,” indicates that they made pockets that were sown into clothing.

And it has become clear that the fabric used to make the pockets was the hospital waste from the US. There are also indications that the material was used to make some clothing.

Inspectors have found pieces of fabric with what could be bloodstains. They also found items being sold made of fabric that had the names of US hospitals stenciled on them.

The site of the Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade reports that an importer who owns Na Intimidade, called Forrozão (big pocket or lining), made imports of up to US$ 1 million annually between 2001 and 2009. Beginning in 2009, Na Intimidade made imports in the same amount

Meanwhile, the maritime agency that transports the containers imported by the company (some 46 tons of the stuff so far this year), reports that another 14 containers are on their way.

Imports documents describe the contents as “cotton fabric with defects,” or “pieces of cloth.”

Inspectors found bedsheets, dressing gowns, scrub suits, pajamas, pillowcases, bath towels, aprons, baby clothing and diapers – along with gloves, syringes, needles, bandages, gauze and catheters – all dirty and used.

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