With Covid-19 infections on the rise, waste management company Averda plays an active role in the removal of contaminated waste products while following strict disposal regulations according to legislation.
A large number of medical tools, equipment and materials come into contact with infected bodily fluids at healthcare facilities; therefore, special disposal protocols have to be followed when disposing of such materials.
“The disposal of such materials is the responsibility of waste generators, such as nurses or healthcare workers, and they will ensure the secure packaging of waste streams according to high-risk isolation requirements,” says Averda healthcare GM Thashnee Budram.
She mentions that South Africa has an established hazardous waste management system in place that complies with global standards, and has had its competence and effectiveness tested by previous outbreaks of other viruses.
“Hospitals will consult with waste management experts, such as Averda, to ensure that its in-house safe operating procedures are sufficiently up to date and applicable to the risk at hand. With Covid-19, as with other viral outbreaks, extreme measures are taken to ensure safety,” says Budram.
She explains that this kind of high-risk waste needs to be packaged in multiple layers of thick plastic and boxes, which need to be sterilised twice before they are assigned to vehicles that are tracked by GPS. The vehicles will then transport the waste to one of eight hazardous waste sites in the country.
“The vehicle that is transporting hazardous waste is not permitted to make any stops en-route. The waste is transported to an incinerator, whereby a small number of specialist staff in full personal protective equipment offloads the cargo and immediately incinerates it.”
Moreover, all Averda frontline staff are trained, and updated support is provided for waste generators according to government regulations and guidelines. When the dynamics of government regulations and guidelines changes, these are also communicated to all waste generators.
“Once the hazardous waste is incinerated, the by-product, which is ash residue, is then disposed at a licensed Class A landfill site, such as the Averda Vlakfontein facility, in Vereeniging,” Budram concludes.