Corona leaves Mumbai’s biomedical wasteline bursting at the seams

MUMBAI: Flooded with biomedical and Covid waste from quarantine centres, containment zones and hospitals, the only common biomedical waste facility in Mumbai is struggling to deal with the additional 5,000-10,000 kg waste per day. Overall biomedical waste (including Covid waste) generated across Maharashtra has crossed the 100-tonne per day mark in September.

According to a study report commissioned by the MPCB, on average, 62.4 tonne biomedical waste per day was generated last year which increased to 90.6 tonne per day by May end this year (including Covid waste). As per MPCB, there are 31 biomedical waste treatment and disposal facilities in the state, of which 29 are incinerators, while the remaining are burial facilities.

For the city’s biomedical waste needs, a common biomedical waste treatment facility-- SMS Envoclean is located at Deonar. The plant’s incinerators have a capacity of treating 24,000 kg per day that was under-utilised so far. Before the outbreak of the pandemic, Mumbai generated 9,000 kg to 17,000 kg of biomedical waste every day that was sent to SMS Envoclean. The facility is over utilised now after the biomedical and Covid waste has surged from 9,000 kg to 17,000 kg to over 24,000 kg per day post June 2020. "In July, the biomedical waste (including Covid waste) increased beyond the 24,000 kg per day limit of the treatment facility in Deonar. In fact, the biomedical waste (including Covid waste) has touched 30,000 kg per day in July and August,” said an executive engineer from BMC's solid waste management department.

According to data from the BMC's solid waste management department, from March 19 onwards, the city started generating Covid-19 waste and between March 19 and March 31, Mumbai generated 6,414 kg Covid-19 waste, an average of 286 kg per day. In April, Mumbai’s Covid-19 waste increased 15 times that of the 12 days in March to 99,123 kg, an average of 3,304 kg per day.

The Covid-19 waste includes masks, gloves, personal protective equipment used by corCovid-19 patients apart from syringes, blood-soaked tissues, swabs and medicines. Due to increasing use of safety equipment in hospitals and among the public , the total amount of biomedical waste in the state reached 103.85 tonnes in September.

“The increase in the number of PPE's, masks, gloves etc has led to an increase in the amount of Covid-19 waste generated in Mumbai and other parts of the state. However, the challenge is to transport it, dispose of it and treat it. This is a huge challenge before us now."

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