IATF urged to create stricter guidelines on disposal of face masks, PPEs

Worried that the irresponsible dumping of used face masks, and personnel protective equipment (PPE) may fire up an “environmental disaster”, DIWA partylist Rep. Michael Edgar Aglipay has asked the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to espouse stricter guidelines on the disposal of such medical waste. 

This picture taken on July 1, 2020 shows a discarded face mask lying on the ground along a street in the central Karrada district of Iraq's capital Baghdad. - Iraq's officially recorded number of COVID-19 coronavirus infections surpassed 50,000 on July 1, the health ministry said, as the war-ravaged country's crippled healthcare system struggles to cope with the outbreak. Health authorities announced that 2,050 people had died of the respiratory illness, while 26,267 people had recovered. Iraq, which has recorded cases in all of its 18 provinces but mainly in Baghdad -- a city of 10 million people -- said it has carried out 556,000 tests since March. (Photo by AHMAD AL-RUBAYE / AFP)

The vice chairperson of the House Committee on Public Order and Safety voiced out the concerns of the environmental groups that the ecological waste management of used face masks and PPEs should be included in the protocols being implemented by the government.
“If such waste is not properly managed, such may lead to an environmental disaster,” Aglipay said in filing House Resolution No. 1244, citing reports that used face masks, face shields and other materials utilized to treat, detect, and prevent the spread of COVID-19 are carelessly disposed of. 
He noted that the IATF-EID’s  August 6 issuance of Resolution No. 61 or the guidelines mandating the wearing of face masks and face shields at all times in public places, and the government’s “impressive increase” in testing and treatment facilities “have unintentionally resulted to incremental increase in medical waste."
Under HR No. 1244, Aglipay, also the vice chairperson of the House Committee on Labor and Employment, urged the House of Representatives to enjoin the IATF-EID to create stricter measures on the disposal of medical waste generated in relation to COVID-19. 
He said such guidelines should be publicized to ensure that the public will be duly informed. 
“The proper disposal of such medical waste is not only a vital part in defeating COVID-19, but also a means to ensure that future generations have a “balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature” as guaranteed by no less than the 1987 Philippine Constitution,” Aglipay said.
EcoWaste Coalition had described as “very worrisome” the unhygienic and environmentally destructive practice of throwing soiled masks and other PPE on the sides of streets and other public places.
It called on the IATF and local government units (LGUs) to step in and incorporate ecological waste management of used face masks and other PPE in the protocols being enforced in our communities and workplaces.