Yellow: The colour for all Covid-19 waste

By, Mumbai
Mar 20, 2020 07:45 PM IST

The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), which published draft guidelines for treatment facilities, healthcare establishments (HCEs) and labs, general public, and self-quarantined patients, has selected ‘yellow’ as the colour code for all Covid-19 waste.

The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), which published draft guidelines for treatment facilities, healthcare establishments (HCEs) and labs, general public, and self-quarantined patients, has selected ‘yellow’ as the colour code for all Covid-19 waste.

HT Image
HT Image

The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board published the final guidelines, based on approval from the Central Pollution Control Board and Maharashtra government, on Friday.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on Thursday directed all states to publish the guidelines under provisions of the Bio Medical Waste Management Rules, 2016 to handle, treat and dispose of Covid-19 waste from healthcare establishments and laboratories.

“States have been handling H1N1 and swine flu biomedical waste. However, all establishments need to strictly ensure that Covid-19 waste is handled separately. Apart from using a unique colour coded collection bag or bin, states need to ensure that Covid-19 waste is transported through a separate vehicle and disposed of first before any other waste. In no circumstances, should anyone come in contact with it directly,” said a senior CPCB official in-charge of waste management who developed the guidelines. “These broad guidelines cover the requirements on what each state needs to do and ensure this waste is treated with utmost care to ensure community transmission in any manner is avoided. If the state wants they can add additional guidelines.”

Amar Supate, principal scientific officer and head of bio-medical waste management, MPCB, said, “The subject has not been given due consideration. Biomedical waste handlers are at high risk. Also self-quarantined or suspected people need to be educated on correct disposal and treatment of waste. The minute these guidelines are received, correct reporting and implementation is key.”

“There are 52,704 health care facilities in Maharashtra, of which 20,225 (bedded) generate 57,773kg bio-medical waste per day, 32,479 (non-bedded) generate 13,667kg per day, and the remaining small clinics and medical centres generate 71kg per day, according to MPCB. We will have to assess the quantity of Covid-19 waste separately under new guidelines,” added Supate.


Guidelines for biomedical waste treatment facilities

- Use and disposal of personal protective equipment by waste collectors, vehicle drivers and attendants from all identified areas including isolation wards.

- Common treatment facility (CTF) operators in each district shall provide appropriate and adequate personal protective equipment such as - head cover, N-95 respirator masks, eye goggles/face shield, full sleeved outer impermeable gown/coveralls, gloves, and shoe covers.

- Sanitisation of gadgets and vehicle used for collection of waste. Gadgets used in such Special vehicle shall be disinfected at regular frequency or daily.

- Operators shall provide separate vehicle for collection and transportation of COVID-19 waste, such vehicles shall be properly disinfected after every round the trip, using certified sanitisers, floor & surface

- Maintaining records of receipt, transportation and disposal of waste.

- Global positioning system enabled biomedical waste transportation vehicles

- Health inspection of waste handlers, transporters and others involved in collection of waste with pre-medical examination conducted for workers and post examination every seven days.

Guidelines for healthcare establishment, pathology, research and development laboratories handling Covid-19 cases

- Waste shall be stored separately in a ‘Yellow’ bag at separate biomedical waste storage point and shall be pre-treated with autoclaving /microwaving before transfer to temporary storage area and then hand over to common treatment facility in ‘Yellow Coloured bags’ with specific marking as “COVID-19 Waste”.

- Liquid Waste generated during diagnosis of COVID-19 shall be kept in spill proof containers in double layered ‘Yellow’ Coloured bags with specific marking as ‘COVID-19 Waste’ with “Biohazard Symbol”.

Guidelines for health care establishments not handling COVID-19 cases and general public/large Establishments (airports, railway stations, bus stands, malls, theatres, banquet halls, industries, IT Centre etc.):

- All waste to be disposed of in “Yellow” Bins with yellow bag liners having bio-hazard symbol and shall hand over to municipal waste collector for disposal at CTF or through local public health centre.

- HCEs who have identified COVID-19 suspect patient shall report such cases to local bodies such as municipal corporation/council and Public Health Department and ensure sanitisation of area and disposal of contaminated material to the nearest treatment facility is done with a specific label.

Guidelines for self-quarantined Covid-19 suspects

- Self-quarantined infectious patients’ caretaker shall contact nearest biomedical waste common treatment facility and request for “Yellow” Bags and hand over waste generated by Patient in a “Yellow” bag to the treatment Facility.

- Common Treatment Facility shall provide or make available “Yellow bags” to such patients directly or through Public Health Centres at nominal cost and shall not charge for waste collected.

- Self-Quarantined COVID-19 suspect patient shall inform about biomedical waste handed over to treatment facility to the nearest public health centre of such as municipal corporation/council and Public Health Department.

(Source: MPCB)

Duties of state pollution boards according to CPCB

- Maintain records of Covid-19 treatment wards, quarantine centres and homes

- Ensure proper collection of biomedical waste as per 2016 rules and standard operating procedure as communicated to states

- Allow waste treatment handlers and treatment facilities to operate for extra hours

- Allow biomedical waste to be collected from all sectors irrespective of where they are located (for example quarantine camps which are not established health care facilities)

(Source: CPCB)


    Badri Chatterjee is an environment correspondent at Hindustan Times, Mumbai. He writes about environment issues - air, water and noise pollution, climate change - weather, wildlife - forests, marine and mangrove conservation

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