Disposal of clinical waste

10/5/2017

Following is a question by the Hon Joseph Lee and a written reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Wong Kam-sing, in the Legislative Council today (May 10):

Question:

     As clinical waste may contain infectious materials and sharps, the authorities have implemented the Clinical Waste Control Scheme to safeguard public health.  It has been reported that a large number of used syringes were found discarded on the street last month, and most of such syringes had not been put into plastic bags or containers, which may cause germs to spread and injure cleaning workers. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council, in the past three years:

(1) of the amount of clinical waste being disposed of by each of the following categories of major clinical waste producers each year and the ways of disposal (set out in a table):

(i) public hospitals, clinics and medical institutions managed by the Hospital Authority,

(ii) private hospitals and maternity homes defined under the Hospitals, Nursing Homes and Maternity Homes Registration Ordinance (Cap 165),

(iii) The Prince Philip Dental Hospital, and

(iv) government clinics and medical laboratories managed by the Department of Health or other government departments;

(2) of the amount of clinical waste being disposed of by each of the following categories of small clinical waste producers each year and the ways of disposal (set out in a table):

(i) private medical clinics / practices,

(ii) private dental clinics / practices,

(iii) private dental, medical, veterinary or pathological laboratories,

(iv) private Chinese medicine clinics / practices,

(v) residential care homes for the elderly,

(vi) universities with medical teaching or research (including Chinese medicine),

(vii) pharmaceutical companies engaged in medical research,

(viii) private veterinary clinics / practices,

(ix) nursing homes,

(x) health and beauty centres where medical practices are conducted, and

(xi) other relevant organisations;

(3) of the number of convictions for contravening the Waste Disposal (Clinical Waste) (General) Regulation (Cap 354 sub leg O), and the details of such convictions; and

(4) of the details of the inspections conducted by the Environmental Protection Department to combat illegal disposal of clinical waste?

Reply:

President,

(1) The quantities of clinical waste disposed of by Major Clinical Waste Producers in the past three years are summarised in Table 1.  All clinical wastes are incinerated at the Chemical Waste Treatment Centre.

Table 1: Quantities of clinical waste disposed of by Major Clinical Waste Producers

                                                                                  Annual Disposal Quantity (tonnes)

Major Clinical Waste Producer 2014 2015 2016
(i) Public hospitals managed by the Hospital Authority 1423 1468 1563
(ii) Private hospitals / maternity homes 365 360 387
(iii) The Prince Philip Dental Hospital 5 5 5

(iv) Public clinics / dental clinics / medical laboratories managed by the Hospital Authority and Department of Health

53 51 51
(v) Public mortuaries 24 26 24
Total 1870 1910 2030

(2) For Small Clinical Waste Producers, the quantities of clinical waste disposed of in the past three years are summarised in Table 2.  All clinical wastes are incinerated at the Chemical Waste Treatment Centre.

Table 2: Quantities of clinical waste disposed of by Small Clinical Waste Producers

                                                                                  Annual Disposal Quantity (tonnes)

Small Clinical Waste Producer 2014 2015 2016
(i) Private medical clinics / practices 66 68 69
(ii) Private dental clinics / practices 11 10 10
(iii) Private dental, medical, veterinary or pathological laboratories 86 88 97
(iv) Private Chinese medicine clinics / practices 3 3 3
(v) Residential care homes for the elderly and nursing homes 20 21 20

(vi) Pharmacological / medical research (including universities and pharmaceutical companies)

82 85 86
(vii) Private veterinary clinics / practices 28 31 28
(viii) Health and beauty centres where medical practices are conducted 3 3 4
(ix) Other relevant organisations (e.g. haemodialysis centres, school immunisation teams, Red Cross's blood transfusion services, etc.) 54 47 41
Total 353 356 358

The above waste producers are classified according to their nature of business.

(3) Details of convicted cases under the Waste Disposal (Clinical Waste) (General) Regulation are summarised in Table 3.

Table 3: Details of convicted cases under the Waste Disposal (Clinical Waste) (General) Regulation

  Offence Date Details of Offence Sentence
1. October 2012

Improper packaging of clinical waste by a private medical clinic, causing injury to waste collection worker.

(contravening of Section 7 of the Regulation)

 A fine of

$20,000
2. August 2013

Improper packaging of clinical waste by a private medical clinic, causing injury to waste collection worker.

(contravening of Section 7 of the Regulation)

A fine of

$10,000

3. August 2016

 Disposal of clinical waste with general refuse by a private medical clinic

(contravening of Section 3 of the Regulation)

A fine of

$10,000

4. October 2016

 Disposal of clinical waste with general refuse by a private medical clinic

(contravening of Section 3 of the Regulation)

A fine of

$50,000

(4) Under the Waste Disposal (Clinical Waste) (General) Regulation, clinical waste must be collected by licensed clinical waste collectors or self-delivered by healthcare professionals to the Chemical Waste Treatment Centre for disposal.  Apart from publicising to the clinical waste producers and management offices of medical buildings, the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) also conducts unannounced inspections at their venues in different districts including medical buildings, Chinese and western medicine clinics, veterinary clinics, medical laboratories and nursing homes.  Prosecution actions will be initiated where improper disposal of clinical waste is found with sufficient evidence.  In 2016, 580 inspections were conducted and two non-compliance cases were successfully convicted.  The EPD has also set up a hotline for the public and the building management offices to report any suspected illegal disposal of clinical waste.

 

Last Updated 2017-5-10