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Covid-19: 14,500 tons waste generated, waste collector halved in a month

  • Published at 05:23 pm May 10th, 2020
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File photo: Waste workers doing cleaning works at Mirpur area of Dhaka on February 20, 2020 Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

The maximum amount of waste was generated from used hand gloves

At least 14,500 tons of waste, including used gloves, masks, sanitizer containers and polythene, have been generated in the last month across Bangladesh, said Environment and Social Development Organization (ESDO)

ESDO revealed the information, from the finding of a new study, through an online press conference on Sunday.

ESDO General Secretary Dr Shariar Hossain moderated the press conference while Sayda Mehrabin Shejuti, assistant program officer at ESDO, presented the study findings. 

Around 570 people from the health sector, police, journalist and general people across 61 districts participated in the survey between March 26 and April 25.

The maximum amount of waste was generated from used hand gloves -- a total of 5,877 tons, of which 3,039 tons were from plastic gloves and the rest 2, 838 from surgical gloves. 

Polythene shopping bags generated 5,796 tons of waste, 1,592 tons came from surgical masks and used hand sanitizer container contributed more 900 tons.

Dhaka alone generated 3,076 tons of waste – 1,916 from gloves (1,314 from surgical gloves and 602 from polythene gloves), 447 from surgical masks, 443 from polythene shopping bag and 270 from used hand sanitizer container. 

Waste collectors at risk

Around 40,000 informal waste collectors work across the country. During the lockdown, the number of operational waste collectors or waste management workers reduced by almost 50% in Dhaka. 

The ones who are working are at high risk of getting infected by Covid-19 as they work without adequate protection. 

Dr Shahriar Hossain said: “During our study we contacted some waste collectors who are not working right now as they fell sick. Some have fever and some are suffering from cough and none of them got the opportunity to test for Covid-19."

“Their health and life are both at risk.”

Department of Environment (DoE) Director (air quality) Ziaul Haque said: “It has become a challenge to properly dispose the medical waste during this coronavirus pandemic. Previously, there was already a struggle with waste management, now it has become worse."

“However, some waste which are not harmful to the atmosphere can be incinerated.”

“PRISM, the sole organization to collect medical waste in the city, is working with the Dhaka City Corporations to manage medical waste. It would be better if some more organizations came forward. However, no one is coming, so, PRISM is doing whatever it can in its capacity,” he added. 

Dr Shahriar Hossain also said: “From personal to household level, medical waste should be kept in a separate place. Waste collection vans should have separate chamber to carry the medical waste and it has to be stored in a sealed place until we have a good solution on how to dispose it.“

“It will be tough to store the medical was in a separate sealed place as the whole country is now affected by the Covid-19,” said Ziaul Haque.

Later, he emphasized on the guidelines of Covid-19 waste management.

Bangladesh Dental Society General Secretary Dr Md Humayun Babir, former additional inspector general of police Mohammad Mokhlesur Rahman, ESDO Executive Director Siddika Sultana and advisor Prof Dr Abu Jafar Mahmud participated in the press conference.