With the increasing global reach of COVID-19, we are all facing new challenges that test our leadership and community resolve. While governments enact stay at home orders and varying degrees of state emergencies, we continue to generate waste from our homebases. Thus, waste management services must endure through the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure urban basic services provide for the well-being of residents and the best possible containment of the virus.
While health workers and other first responders are knowingly exposed to higher risks of contagion, many waste workers may not be fully aware of the risks associated with their waste collection and processing duties.
The United Nations, along with many other authorities, have called on local governments to prioritize waste management, including that of medical, household and other hazardous waste, as an urgent and essential public service in order to minimize possible secondary impacts. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) stated “Effective management of biomedical and health-care waste requires appropriate identification, collection, separation, storage, transportation, treatment and disposal, as well as important associated aspects including disinfection, personnel protection and training."
With this in mind, and with support and guidance from Plastic Smart City partners, we share a collection of resources for waste management professionals to consider during the COVID-19 pandemic, to ensure the protection of their workforce and their communities at large.
UN-Habitat recently published Strategy Guidance: Solid Waste Management Response to COVID-19, which includes a 10 point strategy for solid waste management operations in the context of COVID-19, as well as numerous case study examples. This guidance can be accessed directly from the UN-Habitat site. Additional resources can be accessed from the links below.
UN WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (WHO) AND THE UN INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN’S EMERGENCY FUND (UNICEF) TECHNICAL BRIEF ON WATER, SANITATION, HYGIENE AND WASTE MANAGEMENT FOR COVID-19
UN BASEL CONVENTION’S GUIDE ON MANAGEMENT AND EMERGENCY TREATMENT AND DISPOSAL OF MEDICAL WASTE CAUSED BY COVID-19, CHINA 2020
UN BASEL CONVENTION’S NOTICE ON ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT OF MEDICAL WASTE CAUSED BY COVID-19, CHINA 2020
UN BASEL CONVENTION’S FACTSHEET ON HEALTHCARE AND MEDICAL WASTE
INDIA’S CENTRAL POLLUTION CONTROL BOARD’S GUIDELINES FOR HANDLING, TREATMENT AND DISPOSAL OF WASTE GENERATED DURING TREATMENT/DIAGNOSIS/QUARANTINE OF COVID-19 PATIENTS
INTERNATIONAL SOLID WASTE ASSOCIATION’S COVID-19 RESPONSE – INTERNATIONAL KNOWLEDGE SHARING ON WASTE MANAGEMENT
The amount of plastic entering the ocean is projected to grow four-fold by 2050. Transformative changes, including moving away from single-use towards re-useable packaging, are needed to save our oceans, say Vincent Kneefel and John Duncan.