Government criticised for signing ‘PPE recycling’ contracts

Veolia and Suez have reportedly been awarded contracts that will allow them to ‘incinerate’ unused PPE at their sites

Big Zero Report 2022

Waste management companies Suez and Veolia have reportedly been awarded contracts to burn unused personal protective equipment (PPE).

Last month, ELN reported that the government was considering burning tonnes of surplus PPE in power plants to generate heat and electricity.

According to the Daily Mail, Suez and Veolia have been handed up to £35 million in public money to provide recycling services and ‘incinerate’ PPE at sites across the UK.

The government has said it is cheaper to recycle PPE than to store it.

In response to these reports, Joe Ventre, Digital Campaign Manager of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, commented: “Taxpayers will be furious to see their money go up in smoke like this.

“Action understandably had to be taken quickly to arm healthcare workers with protective equipment, but shoddy deals have seen waste run well into the billions.

“A swift inquiry is needed to hold those responsible to account.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson told ELN: “Our priority throughout the pandemic has been saving lives and we have delivered over 19.1 billion items of PPE to frontline staff to keep them safe.

“Having too much PPE was preferable to having too little in the face of an unpredictable and dangerous virus, given this was essential to keep our NHS open and protect as many people as possible.

“Now we are confident we have sufficient PPE to cover any future Covid demands, we are taking decisive action to save up to £93 million of taxpayers’ money per year by reducing storage costs for excess stock.”

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