Hospital waste is being sent at least 250 miles from Scotland to Wales for disposal, following the collapse of scandal hit firm Healthcare Environmental Services (HES).
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has confirmed that “yellow bag” waste from hospitals, containing sharp materials such as syringes, is being sent to Wrexham in North Wales.
The deal with disposal firm Tradebe will also see “orange bag” waste, which includes items contaminated with bodily fluids, being sent there until a disposal plant at Bellshill becomes operational.
Ms Freeman confirmed the arrangements in answer to questions from Tory Central Scotland MSP Graham Simpson. Conservatives claimed the arrangements, put in place after Lanarkshire-based HES ceased trading in December, exposed Scottish Government hypocrisy on the issue of climate change.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon used her conference speech in April to declare a climate emergency – but Mr Simpson insisted that was a “gimmick”.
The Conservative said: “No sooner had Nicola Sturgeon announced a climate emergency than her government confirms plans to send clinical waste 250 miles away. That has an obvious negative impact on the environment, yet her SNP administration presses ahead with it anyway.”
He added: “It exposes the climate emergency as a gimmick – it was clearly something thought up on the hoof which she will now live to regret.”
HES, which entered liquidation last month, had removed waste from every hospital, GP surgery, dental practice and pharmacy in Scotland, as well as a number of NHS trusts in England.
But it stopped collections in early December after too much waste, including human body parts, built up at its sites. Earlier this month it emerged contractors are charging more than £460,000 per week to dispose of the hazardous materials in Scotland following the demise of HES.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “There is no bigger priority than tackling climate change, and the First Minister has made clear we will take action to ensure Scotland continues to be recognised as a world leader in this area.
“The contract for national healthcare waste management was awarded by NHS National Services Scotland.”