Victoria tackles pandemic-driven clinical waste surge

Tuesday, 01 September, 2020

Victoria tackles pandemic-driven clinical waste surge

Coronavirus outbreaks in some of Victoria’s aged-care facilities have led to a hundredfold increase in clinical waste production. In response, the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre has rapidly coordinated a cross-government effort to manage the situation.

The Response Centre has acted quickly to find a solution, working with private industry, the Victorian Government and regulators to secure storage containers, rubbish collection, incinerators and safe disposal and processing of the waste.

Victorian Aged Care Response Centre Executive Officer Joe Buffone said the waste increase at affected facilities was due to personal protective equipment requirements for staff and increased measures to strengthen infection control.

“As well as dealing with the devastating impact of having coronavirus in their facility, these centres are faced with ever-increasing amounts of waste,” he said.

“Many of these centres usually generate enough medical waste to fill one 240-litre wheelie bin per week. Those with active cases of coronavirus are now filling as many as 12 240-litre bins per day, or 84 bins per week.”

Buffone said government agencies had worked to streamline the permit process for collecting and safely disposing of the waste. The federal government is funding additional waste collection services and waste management coordination.

He explained that the measures being taken were designed to provide extra capacity and streamline permits while maintaining Victoria’s high standards for clinical waste disposal.

“Clinical waste is a prescribed industrial waste under EPA Regulations and must be transported by a permitted vehicle and disposed of at licensed premises,” he said.

EPA guidelines have been distributed to every aged-care facility in Victoria, clearly defining what is clinical waste and how to safely dispose of it.

“Waste collection companies have significantly increased the number of trucks to cope with the demand and have been key partners in developing the solution.”

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