A nationally televised programme to mark World Consumer Rights Day has exposed substandard napkins made of recycled paper including packaging for medicines and used books.
The annual show on China Central Television exposes a number of severe cases of fake or substandard products every year.
The substandard napkins, often seen in restaurants, flashed shiny spots under a fluorescent light because these napkins were contaminated with whitener during the production process after being made from recycled waste paper. The show said the napkins were even filthier than toilet paper. The show reported that under government regulations, recycled paper may not be used in the production of paper used for sanitary purposes. The only qualified raw materials are wood and bamboo.
The national standards for such disposable products, including paper napkins, stipulate that raw materials must be non-poisonous and non-polluting.
The substandard napkins, whose factory names or addresses on the packages were not shown, were sold at an agricultural product market in Baoding and at Jianong Market and a vegetable market in Shijiazhuang, all in Hebei . The napkins were made by the Baojie and Chenguang factories in Hebei.
The two factories used materials made of waste paper from other factories that processed recycled waste paper including used books, scraps of paper and medicine packaging. Neither factory sanitised the raw materials or paper napkins during production.
The illegal raw materials cost only half of what the qualified materials cost, according to one factory head.
A paper factory in Luancheng county, also in Hebei, contained a pile of at least 100 tonnes of waste paper soiled with medicine tablets and excrement.
The factory converted the waste paper into raw materials by adding caustic soda, with a corrosive chemical that can remove ink, and the fluorescent whitener.
The show reported that many factories used fluorescent whitener in Baoding. 'They claimed to outsiders that they were toilet paper producers to avoid inspection,' the show said.