Six months ago, India was thinking to be plastic-free but now, that has gone out of the window due to Covid-19. At the moment, health and safety take precedence over the environment. The way of consuming PPE kits such as surgical masks, gloves and shoe covers may have a negative impact on environment.
No doubt that, PPEs are vital in battling the Covid-19 crisis, but need to be disposed daily, especially by healthcare workers.
There is no doubt that PPEs are vital to fight against the Covid-19 crisis, but need to be disposed on a daily basis, especially by healthcare people. These wastes are piling up which definitely have an environmental crisis, and India is still lagging in the systematic collection and disposal of these wastes.
This waste is slowly piling up an environmental crisis. Delhi is still lagging in the systematic collection and disposal of this waste, which further poses a risk to the health of sanitation workers.
A Delhi based waste management expert Swati Singh Sambyal pointed that masks, gloves and PPEs are found dumped outside the hospital and even on the streets. There is no division at the household level. Waste collectors have to pick it up and in doing so expose the potentially infected material directly. And collectors live in congested and densely populated areas. If they are incomplete or infected, they will spread the virus to others
Many still dump their household garbage in one polybag and throw it at the nearest ‘dhalao’ (temporary waste storage three-walled bays). According to Sourabh Manuja, Fellow, Environment and Waste Management Division, masks, gloves and kits should be separated in a yellow bag for at least 72 hours before being thrown out.
Another issue is that, plastic has always been an unsolved issue. According to Jai Dhar Gupta, Founder of Nirvana Being, the barring gloves and goggles and every type of PPE is made up of some form of plastic. And the amount of plastic that is going into our air, water and food is going to do more harm than COVID itself.
Radha Krishan, PRO, SDMC, informs that the collected garbage is then taken to the landfill site in Ghazipur, where the masks, PPE kits and gloves are segregated there and sent to the waste-to-energy plant in Tehkhand.
As the number of cases in India is increasing, more waste will be generated and treatment plants may fall short of capacity. The government needs to consider this with the COVID crisis as it would be a long-standing ecological threat. Clothes masks and cotton gloves can be alternatives and antiviral masks can be an option to ensure complete protection.
(This news is based on article by Nikita Sharma, Express News Service.)