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October 2021

How to dispose of COVID-19 waste

Written by Lemay Rogers
Hygiene and COVID-19, Medical Waste and Waste Disposal

Our most recent blog takes a look at the medical waste generated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and what we should be doing to dispose of it responsibly. 

We have been in 'this' together for the last 18 months and by now most of us - when we hear the words Coronavirus or COVID-19 - want to run screaming in the other direction. Unfortunately COVID-19 news fatigue has left us desensitised and complacent. The rigorous decontamination rituals practised during the early days of Lockdown Level 5 have been replaced by reluctant masking. The way we dispose of our COVID-19 waste has also become an afterthought.

How to dispose of COVID-19 waste

When disposing of COVID-19 contaminated waste (which could include tissues, masks, gloves, overalls, and other PPE) or indeed any waste that is potentially contaminated with COVID-19, there are 3 questions that you need to ask yourself:

  1. How do I ensure that cross-contamination risk is minimised in my environment?

  2. How do I ensure that the contaminated waste is disposed of safely so as not to affect people outside my immediate environment? For example, waste pickers.

  3. How do I ensure that this waste does not end up polluting our oceans?

Here are a few simple steps to help you dispose of COVID-19 waste (and high-risk Coronavirus items like PPE) safely:

  1. Flush snotty tissues down the toilet rather than putting them down on the table next to you or throwing them in a waste bin.

  2. When disposing of infected PPE ensure that you are doing so in a designated receptacle such as an Initial PPE disposal solution that is safely removed by trained experts wearing the appropriate PPE. A reputable disposal company will also ensure proper procedures are followed so that this waste is treated and disposed of in a designated landfill.

  3. You might be wondering about what you should do at home when you are in isolation. 
    We recommend that you use one garbage bag to dispose of all COVID-infected waste. When the bag is full, tie it closed with a knot and place it in another garbage bag that is also tied with a knot.

    Place this bag in an area away from people and animals for 5 days before disposing of it through municipal services. As an additional precaution, mark the bag clearly as "COVID-19 waste - do not open".

  4. After disposal, it is important to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
Initial is able to deliver high quality, professional and legally compliant COVID-19 services across the country. Our qualified technicians are equipped with all the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE), respiratory protective equipment (RPE) and specialist disinfection equipment to work safely and effectively. Speak to an accredited medical waste disposal partner to discuss a solution to suit your requirements. 

Contact the Initial team to discuss your hygiene requirements

Lemay Rogers

Lemay Rogers

Lémay Rogers is the Marketing Manager for Rentokil Initial's Sub-Saharan Africa region. When not contributing to the Rentokil Initial blogs, she is the custodian of all things Marketing for Rentokil Initial Sub-Saharan Africa. As a frequent traveller AND mother of a pre-schooler, she is all too aware of how easily germs can travel with us, from one location to another and then back to our homes. Follow Lémay on LinkedIn for practical pest control advice and good hygiene practices, both at home and in the workplace.

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