Specialist waste management firm Tradebe has contradicted a claim by Healthcare Environment Services (HES), which is facing a criminal investigation after stockpiling excessive amounts of clinical waste, that there is not enough high-temperature incineration capacity in the UK.
HES was found to be storing more clinical waste than was permitted at five sites in England. Enforcement notices were also issued by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) at two HES sites.
By way of explanation, HES said in a statement that there had been a reduction in the UK’s high-temperature incineration capacity because of “ageing infrastructure, prolonged breakdowns and the reliance on zero waste to landfill policies”.
HES said: “During the past year, this reduced incineration capacity has been evident across all of the industry and has affected all companies.”
But Tradebe has denied this is the case. A spokesperson for the business that processes clinical waste said: “We would like to assure both our customers and the public that there is sufficient waste incineration capacity within the UK to meet current market demand.
“All waste is processed on receipt; we do not store waste at our facilities or at any other location. Tradebe Healthcare sites are regularly audited by the Environment Agency (EA) and Natural Resources Wales which have confirmed that we are operating in line with expected practice.”
Tradebe owns and operates its own treatment and incineration facilities.
The EA has launched a criminal investigation into HES’s activities.
An EA spokesperson said: “[We have] found Healthcare Environmental Services to be in breach of its environmental permits at five sites which deal with clinical waste.
“We are taking enforcement action against the operator, which includes clearance of the excess waste, and have launched a criminal investigation.
“We are supporting the Government and the NHS to ensure there is no disruption to public services, and for alternative plans to be put in place for hospitals affected to dispose of their waste safely.”
A Sepa spokesperson said: “Sepa is aware of developments in England and is working closely with the EA. [We are] clear that compliance is non-negotiable and have been robustly monitoring sites in Scotland.”