Labour has criticised the “eye-watering waste” of burning half a billion items of unused Covid protecting gear in China.
The Government mentioned it was holding some 589 million unneeded objects of private protecting tools (PPE) in China as of final September, most of which was destroyed by March of this 12 months in a bid to cut back excessive storage prices.
Incinerating the plastic-laced equipment launched 2.8 million kilograms of carbon dioxide into the setting, based on evaluation by Labour.
It mentioned that’s equal to the CO2 produced by 3,750 UK households’ electrical energy consumption for a 12 months.
The UK ordered billions of objects of PPE through the coronavirus pandemic, together with from China, however some of it by no means left the nation and was nonetheless in storage there on the finish of final 12 months.
In response to a sequence of parliamentary written questions from Labour, well being minister Will Quince mentioned the bulk of that equipment was “appropriate for use in well being and social care settings” however was “surplus to necessities” because the Division for Well being and Social Care (DHSC) had sufficient of it in inventory in the UK.
Whereas the Government earlier donated some PPE to different nations, none had been donated, recycled or offered since September final 12 months.
All of the 589 million objects remaining in storage at that time had been to be “disposed of by incineration,” Mr Quince mentioned.
By March this 12 months, some 12 million items had been nonetheless left over. They had been additionally resulting from be burned in an effort to rapidly exit dear storage amenities.
The Government was nonetheless spending greater than £215,000 per week to maintain the PPE in warehouses in China on the time, Mr Quince revealed in reply to a different query.
Labour deputy chief Angela Rayner mentioned: “This Government has spent a fortune in taxpayers’ cash, buying, storing and incinerating mountains of unused equipment which by no means has and by no means will attain UK soil. The attention-watering waste of this bonfire of ineffective PPE is staggering.
“Quite than promoting, donating, repurposing or recycling this unused tools, ministers have set gentle to a waste mountain on the opposite aspect of the world and left the UK taxpayer footing the invoice.
“Good British companies put themselves ahead to supply PPE through the pandemic, however as a substitute of investing in and dealing with them, the Government has overseen catastrophic waste and thrown good cash after dangerous masking their tracks.
“A Labour Government will get robust on waste, with an Workplace of Worth for Cash to make sure each penny of taxpayers’ cash is handled with respect.”
A DHSC spokesperson mentioned: “All our PPE is saved in websites in the UK and we not have any PPE saved abroad.
“We proceed to repurpose and recycle extra PPE in essentially the most cost-effective approach, in addition to searching for to get well prices from suppliers wherever doable to make sure taxpayer worth for cash.”