The Vietnamese police have recently seized over 300,000 recycled condoms from a southern province. The raid happened in a warehouse that was situated in the Binh Duong province. According to the officers who were involved in the raid, the recycled condoms were stored in various bags.
The state-controlled Tuoi Tre newspaper reported that these bags weighed almost 800 pounds. In the footage that was broadcasted by the state-owned Vietnam Television, one could see thousands of such used condoms spilling out of bags onto the floor.
As of yet, it is unclear as to what made the police to raid such a warehouse. However, according to local media reports, the police apparently received a tip from one of the local residents.
The police were able to arrest a woman who was connected with this operation. Later on, the police identified her as Pham Thi Thanh Ngoc. In her statement, she told the authorities that she had received a monthly delivery from an anonymous person. According to her, she was paid an upwards of 17 cents for every two pounds that she recycled.
According to her statement, the condoms had been recycled through a process of boiling and drying before finally being reshaped with a wooden prosthesis. At present, the police are still figuring out for how long the business has been in operation or how many condoms have been sold till date.
Condoms are usually designed to be disposed of after use. Thus, reusing them could lead to breakage, slipping, or leakage. Anh Nguyen, an obstetrician from Dak Lak, said that recycling used condoms have some serious implications.
“For-profit, they can spread sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis, gonorrhea and possibly H.I.V.,” she said of the warehouse business. “This must be prevented.”
However, recycling condoms is not an uncommon thing. Sex workers, especially in developing countries, are known for such practices.
“It’s not impossible to wash a condom,” said Juliet Richters, a sexual health expert and an honorary professor at the University of New South Wales. “But it’s never happened, to my knowledge, on an industrial scale.”
Professor Richters explained that it would be very difficult to recycle used condoms without proper equipment to roll these up and repackage them in order to pass them off as brand new. Even with the proper equipment, this would be a painstaking work that is not worth the effort. She said it was unclear what impact the boiling would have on the condoms’ integrity.