Posted on: 24th Feb 2021
Disposal of Infectious Covid-19 Waste
It is no surprise that with a global pandemic, comes an increase in infectious clinical waste, whether it be from Covid-19 testing facilities or increased hospital admissions. The management and treatment of such waste has become a challenge for the healthcare industry.
A typical Covid-19 patient can produce roughly double the amount of waste compared to a non-covid patient. Most of this waste will be due to additional PPE, cleaning products and wipes – but this all needs to be disposed of in a safe and secure manner.
In April of last year, the Environment Agency (EA) released a regulatory position statement (RPS) allowing municipal waste incinerators to accept Covid-19 infectious waste without varying environmental permits. A decision that has been reassessed throughout the crisis, and to date will remain in place until 31st July 2021. Companies must get written agreement from the EA before using the Covid-19 RPS.
Clinical waste generated from a possible or confirmed case of Covid-19 is categorised as infectious clinical waste (EWC code 18 01 03*), this includes infectious PPE, dressings and swabs. It must be packed in UN approved orange bags in accordance with the Department of Health’s HTM07-01 ‘Safe management of healthcare waste’.
Pre Covid-19, traditional municipal waste incinerators were not permitted (nor are they designed) to dispose of infectious or highly infectious waste, a waste stream that requires incineration at a much higher temperature of 1,110C.
Infectious waste (orange bag waste) would need to go for high temperature incineration or firstly be treated to render it safe, through a sterilisation process in an autoclave. The material generated is then sterile and suitable for incineration through a suitably permitted or licenced facility. A process that the EA’s RPS has essentially bypassed amidst the crisis.
The disposal methods of highly infectious waste, in yellow bags or orange/yellow lidded boxes, has not changed since the EA’s statement and have continued to go for high temperature incineration.
In the past, the number of high temperature incineration plants and demand for capacity may have been an issue, however with the addition of two new clinical waste treatment plants coming online in the UK this year, Andusia are the one stop shop to treat all clinical waste in one place.
Sending all infectious waste to one location to be treated at high temperature, avoids any unnecessary processing, enables more efficient transport, offers an elevated level of safety and minimises environmental impact, turning dangerous and infectious clinical waste into nothing but ash, heat and electricity.
In addition to a new plant in Malvern, Worcestershire, becoming operational this month, from Q3 Andusia will also be sole suppliers to the largest clinical waste treatment plant built in the last 20 years in Stoke-on-Trent.
You can find a list of EWC codes and the type of waste accepted at Malvern here on our website. To discuss your hazardous and clinical waste requirements, contact us today 01992 666257.