Clean Tech

Covid waste: By heaps and bounds

V Rishi Kumar | Updated on June 27, 2021

The right way: Proper disposal of biomedical waste is crucial to halt infection   -  PTI

The pandemic has stretched waste management to its limit

Besides immensely taxing the healthcare system, Covid-19 has brought enormous challenges in handling the mountain of biomedical waste generated each day.

Says Masood Mallick, Joint Managing Director of Hyderabad-based Ramky Enviro Engineers Limited (REEL), India’s largest environment services company: “India generates 600 tonnes per day of non-Covid-19 biomedical waste, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). This almost increased by over 50 per cent by May 2021, as a result of the pandemic.”

What helped the company handle the additional load was experience — it had set up its biomedical waste facility as early as 2000, even before the country’s biomedical waste rules had come into effect.

“Today we serve over 35,000 healthcare establishments, over 4 lakh hospital beds and hundreds of quarantine centres across the country. We handle over 40,000 tonnes of biomedical waste every year across 23 cities,” adds Mallick.

Since biomedical waste management facilities can handle only 100–250 kg of waste an hour, REEL deployed 17 industrial hazard waste management units to handle the load created by the pandemic. So far, it has handled more than 10,000 tonnes of Covid-related waste across 950 hospitals and quarantine centres. At the peak of the crisis last year, it handled 180 tonnes of medical waste per day, including 60 tonnes of Covid waste.

The company deployed more than 1,500 frontline employees and over 350 support personnel to safely collect biomedical waste and dispose of within 24 hours to prevent further spread of infection.

“Some of the staff in our corporate offices, including me, were infected by Covid, but we ensured the staff handling were well taken care of,” explains Mallick.

The waste is packed in double-lined and tear-resistant bags and incinerated at approved treatment facilities. “We also developed new protocols teaming up with global health experts,” says Mallick.

Published on June 27, 2021

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