TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Covid-19 pandemic has increased the volume of medical waste, especially used face masks. Many local governments, including West Java, encountered serious difficulties in managing such toxic and hazardous trash.
“The medical waste due to the Covid-19 reaches 1.7 tons per day,” said the West Java Environment Agency Head Prima Mayaningtyas.
The waste came from 261 hospitals, or 68 percent of the total of 383 hospitals across the province, in the form of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as hazmat suits, face masks, hand gloves, and domestic waste due to contact with positive patients, for example, food scraps and containers and used tissues.
The waste management in hospitals is mostly handled by third parties. However, the operators had difficulties in obtaining permits to transport and process the trash, Prima said. “The pandemic runs fast and the site for processing it is located far,” he added during a webinar on the national waste day on February 16.
Although the seven companies which managed the medical waste were able to process 155.04 tons of waste per day, there was a shortage in the equipment as they were also used to process general hazardous waste (B3 waste), not specifically for medical hazardous waste.
“Medical waste in some regions such as Bogor, Cirebon, are disposed of carelessly,” he said.
Meanwhile, Prima argued that the public lacked education about how to sort and manage medical waste. “On average, the difficulties lie on limited funds, transportation services, human resources, permits, and finding depots to store medical waste,” Prima explained.
ANWAR SISWADI (CONTRIBUTOR)