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In China, they’re recycling condoms into rubber bands

I’m a big fan of recycling. I love it. Give me a rectangular blue bin and I’ll fill it with newspapers, bottles and cans. And yet, I can’t help but be disturbed by a report that some folks in Guangdong province, China, are reprocessing used condoms into rubber bands. You gotta draw the line somewhere. ...

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I’m a big fan of recycling. I love it. Give me a rectangular blue bin and I’ll fill it with newspapers, bottles and cans.

And yet, I can’t help but be disturbed by a report that some folks in Guangdong province, China, are reprocessing used condoms into rubber bands. You gotta draw the line somewhere.

Local doctors have warned that using these rubber bands could lead to the spread of AIDS, genital warts and other sexually transmitted diseases.

“There are a lot of bacteria and viruses on the rubber bands and hair ties made from used condoms,” a dermatologist at the Guangzhou Hospital of Armed Police, who asked to be identified by his surname Dong, said.

“People could be infected with AIDS, warts or other diseases if they hold the rubber bands or strings in their mouths while weaving their hair into plaits or buns,” Dong was quoted as saying by the paper.

A better form of sex-related recycling, in theory, is this British company’s initiative to recycle used vibrators. It turns out that under British law, electronic sex toys are considered e-waste, so you can’t just throw them in a landfill when you’ve, uh, worn them out. But don’t worry: The company isn’t putting the old vibrators back into the rotation, as it were. They’re just promising to dispose of them properly.

I’m a big fan of recycling. I love it. Give me a rectangular blue bin and I’ll fill it with newspapers, bottles and cans.

And yet, I can’t help but be disturbed by a report that some folks in Guangdong province, China, are reprocessing used condoms into rubber bands. You gotta draw the line somewhere.

Local doctors have warned that using these rubber bands could lead to the spread of AIDS, genital warts and other sexually transmitted diseases.

“There are a lot of bacteria and viruses on the rubber bands and hair ties made from used condoms,” a dermatologist at the Guangzhou Hospital of Armed Police, who asked to be identified by his surname Dong, said.

“People could be infected with AIDS, warts or other diseases if they hold the rubber bands or strings in their mouths while weaving their hair into plaits or buns,” Dong was quoted as saying by the paper.

A better form of sex-related recycling, in theory, is this British company’s initiative to recycle used vibrators. It turns out that under British law, electronic sex toys are considered e-waste, so you can’t just throw them in a landfill when you’ve, uh, worn them out. But don’t worry: The company isn’t putting the old vibrators back into the rotation, as it were. They’re just promising to dispose of them properly.



NATALIE BEHRING

Still, all of this unusual recycling activity kinda makes you wonder what’s really going on in places like this “digital dump” in China, featured in a recent FP photo essay:

It can be 10 times cheaper for a “recycler” to ship waste to China than to dispose of it properly at home. With the market for e-waste expected to top $11 billion by 2009, it’s lucrative to dump on the developing world.

By now, we’ve all heard about old cell phones and laptops leaching toxic chemicals into the soil in places like India, China, and Nigeria. But are used Western dildos piling up in some dark corner of Xinjiang somewhere, too?

(Hat tip: On Deadline)

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