The Impact of COVID-19 on Waste Management in India

by Sadabahar Greens Pvt. Ltd.

The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the gravest global crises in the modern times. In response to the pandemic, most countries imposed mandatory lockdowns, restricting the movement of the people and vehicles. In India, the nationwide mandate came into effect on 25 March 2020 and was renewed four times, until May 2020. 
Since the enforcement of the lockdowns, the Solid Waste management Association of North America has noted many changes in the quantity and source of solid waste generated. While there has been no proven case of COVID-19 transmission through healthcare waste, excessive volume of COVID-19 waste has become a significant challenge for its proper handling to the waste management authorities. To address the guidelines, issues have been articulated for citizens to effectively reduce and segregate waste. The US occupational safety and health administration (OSHA) has pre-defined the safety guideline for personnel involved in Solid Waste management The developing countries including India, Vietnam and Malaysia have published guidelines for the handling of medical waste and waste generated in infected households. Including the Central Pollution Control Board, Centres for Disease Control and World Health Organization, Prevention, International Solid Waste Management Association, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration.


COVID-19 Solid Waste Management

The MoHUA is dedicated to promoting scientific Solid Waste Management, especially in quarantined households. Sanitation workers who are at the frontlines are amongst the most vulnerable due to the nature of their work in waste collection. Keeping this in mind, the MoHUA has released multiple guidelines and advisories to be followed by local governments, states, and contractors employing sanitation and faecal waste management workers. The Central Advisory is divided into broad categories.

  • Specific measures for sanitation workers
  • Standard Operating Procedure
  • Availability of PPE kits/safety gears and disinfectants for sanitation worker 
  • In addition to the broad categories, the MoHUA has issued advisories to help ULBs in the following areas:
  • Special cleaning of public places
  • Safe disposal of masks and other related waste from quarantined households, and transportation without mixing with other household waste
  • Safe disposal of waste from quarantined households
  • Welfare and protection of sanitary workers engaged in waste management activities such as collection and transportation of COVID-19 waste.

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