Biomedical waste trebles in Noida since onset of Covid-19
According to the Noida authority and the agency managing bio waste, earlier the city hospitals, dispensaries and pathologies generated 800 to 900kg of biomedical waste every day (before March), but it has now increased to at least 3,000kg daily (in July).Updated: Jul 16, 2020 10:45 IST
With the number of Covid-19 cases being reported from the city on the rise, the biomedical waste being generated by the city, too, has increased threefold over the last four months, even as agencies managing bio waste assert that the volume of non-Covid waste generated by hospitals has dropped.
According to the Noida authority and the agency managing bio waste, earlier the city hospitals, dispensaries and pathologies generated 800 to 900kg of biomedical waste every day (before March), but it has now increased to at least 3,000kg daily (in July).
Of the 3,000kg, 2,100 to 2,200kg has been labelled Covid-19 waste, and is collected in yellow bags and incinerated, officials said. The rest of the waste -- about 750 to 800kg -- is non-Covid and even that includes a large number of PPE kits generated from hospitals, dental clinics and dispensaries not dealing with Covid-19.
“We ensure that all Covid-19 waste is collected and managed properly. The volume of waste generated is also increasing, particularly since Mid-May. Most of the new waste includes PPE kits, gloves, masks etc. Private agencies hired by us collect the bio waste from the Covid-19 hospitals and isolation centres, and a separate agency collects it from those who are home quarantined,” SC Mishra, project engineer, health, Noida authority, said.
While the waste has doubled, none of the workers handling the bio waste has been so far contracted Covid-19 or shown any symptoms, the agencies manager said.
According to experts, the biomedical waste is segregated through four coloured categories – yellow, red, white/transparent and blue.
Of this, yellow includes organic waste such as human tissues, body parts, blood bags, bandages, expired medicines, chemicals, plasters and is treated through incineration. The Covid-19 waste that includes PPE kits etc. also comes under the same category.
According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) guidelines, revised in June, the general waste contaminated by blood/body fluids of persons infected with Covid-19 shall be segregated in the yellow bag along with gloves and masks used by them.
The red bag includes plastic wares and is treated though sterilisation followed by recycling.
The while bag collects metals and plastics such as syringes and scalpels which are either encapsulated in lime or the metal is recovered after sterilisation.
The blue bag is for glassware and is recycled
“The load has increased a lot, and the waste is being collected as per the latest pollution control board’s guidelines. The waste being generated includes a large number of PPE kits, masks and gloves, syringes, a lot of waste food, food packing materials, and human waste, in some cases. This is an entirely new genre of waste that we are collecting in yellow bags, and they are handled with extreme precautions. The waste is more than double of what we had been managing earlier. So we had to increase the staff strength and press into service 10 extra vehicles to transport all the waste to our incinerator facility in Meerut,” said Sanjay Kaushik, CEO Synergy, the agency that handles biomedical waste across 33 districts of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Bihar.
“The non-Covid biomedical waste, which used to be about 900kg a day, before the pandemic, has dropped to around 600 to 800kg now, and even a lot of that is PPE kits generated from non-Covid hospitals and pathologies,” Kaushik said.
While the hospital and quarantine facilities are generating a substantial amount of waste, about 40 kilos are also being collected through door-to-door pickup from those in home quarantine.
“We had been collecting Covid-19 waste such as masks and gloves from over 200 home quarantine spots since mid-May. We had to train our staff to handle such waste which is now equivalent to biomedical waste and is collected in yellow bags. The volume is increasing, from just five to 10kg earlier to 40-45kg at present,” said Nagarjuna Reddy, project head, AG Enviro Infra Projects pvt ltd, the agency hired by the Noida authority to do the door-to-door collection of waste.