DENR seeks greater cooperation in proper disposal of pandemic materials and other medical wastes

Senator Cynthia A. Villar strongly suggested that medical wastes in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic could be solved by local government units (LGUs) who would purchase equipment instead of allowing them to be collected by garbage collectors for eventual disposal.

Villar made the suggestion when her Senate finance sub-committee ‘B’ looked into the proposed 2022 P25.2 billion budget of the Department of Environment and Natural Sources (DENR).

Garbage collectors might infected if they handle suspected hazardous wastes, she pointed out.

DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said they are tracking all permits issued on the treatment, storage and disposal of medical wastes.

He said they are also studying responses on on-site treatment of medical facilities and have met with the Department of Health (DOH), Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and LGUs on what kind of treatment and disposal is efficient.

Antiporda said they have encouraged barangays to come up with special areas for ‘’yellow’’ bins where medical wastes such as face masks, face shields and other household wastes would be placed.

These bins would contain suspected hazardous wastes, he added.

During the budget hearing, Senator Francis Tolentino asked DENR officials how syringes, needles and bottles used in the government’s vaccination program are disposed of.

When the DENR replied that some of the wastes were treated on site using chemicals while others were brought to treatment facilities where they were placed on a special cell on sanitary landfills, Tolentino pointed out that he has yet to encounter a facility that would treat all of the three items of bio-medical wastes at the same time.

“If we will reach herd immunity of 70 million Filipinos vaccinated, we will need 140 million needles. If we will add another booster, that would total to 210 million needles, some of which would be infected. Perhaps, we can have a discussion on the disposal of these wastes and the corresponding budget before the plenary,” Tolentino said.