Thursday, November 15, 2007

Recycling gone too far? Used condoms

In a follow up to our detailed study of the economics of recycling yesterday comes news that China is taking recycling to new heights (or is it depths).

The concept of recycling used condoms to wear as hair bands may not appeal but remember that someone has the job of collecting and processing the said used condom. Whilst we are on the subject, where would a budding used condom entrepreneur source his or her stock? Sounds like a spoof story to me.

China recycling used condoms as cheap hair bands [Yahoo news]

BEIJING (AFP) - Used condoms are being recycled into hair bands in southern China, threatening to spread sexually-transmittable diseases they were originally meant to prevent, state media reported Tuesday.

In the latest example of potentially harmful Chinese-made products, rubber hair bands have been found in local markets and beauty salons in Dongguan and Guangzhou cities in southern Guangdong province, China Daily newspaper said.

"These cheap and colourful rubber bands and hair ties sell well ... threatening the health of local people," it said.

Despite being recycled, the hair bands could still contain bacteria and viruses, it said.

"People could be infected with AIDS, (genital) warts or other diseases if they hold the rubber bands or strings in their mouths while waving their hair into plaits or buns," the paper quoted a local dermatologist who gave only his surname, Dong, as saying.

A bag of ten of the recycled bands sells for just 25 fen (three cents), much cheaper than others on the market, accounting for their popularity, the paper said.

A government official was quoted as saying recycling condoms was illegal.

China's manufacturing industry has been repeatedly tarnished this year by a string of scandals involving shoddy or dangerous goods made for both domestic and foreign markets.

In response, it launched a public relations blitz this summer aimed at playing up efforts to strengthen monitoring systems.



Mike Vasquez said...

Whoa, recycled condoms. This blog post is pretty much the most startling article I've ever read this month. I can't believe that used condoms are being recycled as head bands.

Anonymous said...

shit, never thought condoms wud be recycled!

Anonymous said...

My opinion: Another "journalist's product" that demonizes China, which is often seen in today's media.

The fixed cost of sourcing "raw materials" in this case should be high enought to prevent the real production from beginning, letting alone the marginal cost (e.g. imagine you have to collect 10,000 used condoms per day to meet increasing demand from a local hair bands wholesaler!).

Also, numerous substitutes with features such as flexiblity and elasticity (sounds familiar..) to the used condoms are very much easier to be available - maybe cheaper, too. If so, why bother?

Cianoy said...

Whoever's recycling that should also start a sperm bank... ;-)

But seriously, that's just sick. He'll probably source it in motels. Out of the many, many things we can recycle, it had to be the condom.