The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on Thursday issued revised guidelines on the disposal of COVID-19 waste and directed that masks and gloves used by everyone, whether infected or not, should be cut and kept in paper bags for minimum 72 hours before disposing of them.
Face masks have become the new normal and they are here to stay until a vaccine is developed for the deadly coronavirus infection. However, the constant wearing and disposal of use-and-throw masks, especially in public places like malls and offices, increases the risk of contamination, now that several states in India have accepted community transmission. The pollution watchdog has specifically directed commercial establishments like malls and offices to follow the same procedure with discarded protective personal equipment (PPE) from the general public.
“Discarded PPEs from general public at commercial establishments, shopping malls, institutions, offices, etc. should be stored in a separate bin for 3 days, thereafter, disposed of as dry general solid waste after cutting/shredding. “Waste masks and gloves in general households should be kept in a paper bag for a minimum of 72 hours prior to disposal of the same as dry general solid waste after cutting the same to prevent reuse,” the CPCB said.
Clarifying the guidelines further, the pollution board said that leftover food, empty juice bottles or tetra packs, empty water bottles, as well as packaging material, and any other items handled by infected patients should not be mixed with bio-medical waste but instead “should be collected along with other general solid waste in bags securely tied”. “Yellow coloured bag should not be used for general solid waste,” it added.
This is the fourth time the CPCB has issued guidelines on the management of bio-medical waste generated from coronavirus. The CPCB also recommended the use of bio-degradable or non-disposable cutlery to minimize waste generation.