Ministry and FEMP issue recommendations on management of waste from persons in quarantine due to COVID-19

The recommendations affect both domestic handling of the waste, in accordance with Ministry of Health recommendations, and the management of the bag containing the waste of the quarantined person.

 

The Spanish ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge has issued recommendations on the management of domestic waste from the homes of COVID – 19 isolated or quarantined persons. These instructions have been communicated to the Autonomous Communities and the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces (FEMP), which have in turn conveyed them to the pertinent local authorities. Given that waste management is the competence of the Autonomous Communities and local authorities, these recommendations constitute guidelines on good practices and they have been issued subsequent to discussion with all competent authorities, including regional authorities and the FEMP, with the emphasis on precaution.

The recommendations affect both domestic handling of the waste, in accordance with Ministry of Health recommendations, and the management of the bag containing the waste of the quarantined person.

Domestic waste handling

The disposable material used by both patient and carers (gloves, tissues, masks), personal protective equipment (PPE) used by healthcare staff (except eye protection and masks) and any other waste from the patient must be disposed of in the refuse bin within the patient’s room. This bin should preferably have a pedal-based opening system. The plastic bag into which the waste is deposited should be capable of being hermetically sealed and closed prior to being taken from the room.

The mask and eye protection should be removed outside the room of the patient, where a bin similar in characteristics to that described above and featuring a plastic bag with airtight seal should be deployed. Each time waste is deposited into these bags (bag 1), the bag should be closed and discarded in the manner described below.

Bag 1, with the waste described above, should be deposited the refuse bag for the rest fraction (bag 2), which will also be hermetically sealed.

Management of the bag with the patient’s waste

Bag 2 will be deposited exclusively in the rest fraction container and it is strictly prohibited to deposit this bag in any of the containers deployed for segregated fractions (organic, packaging, paper, glass or textiles), or to abandon it.

The collected rest fraction:

  • Will be sent directly to landfill or for incineration, without the bags being opened manually, if this is possible.
  • In the event that prior treatment is required, this treatment will be carried out automatically and manual opening of bags will be avoided.

Material recovery will only be carried out automatically. In order to ensure safety, competent authorities can agree for the materials to be stored for a minimum of 72 hours.

Specific worker protection protocols will be developed, or existing protocols reviewed, for both the collection of this waste and its receipt at treatment plants. Workers will be issued with the necessary personal protection equipment (PPE).

Differentiated collection can be established for bags (type 2) from centres/institutions with high numbers of people affected by COVID19 (hospices, homes for the elderly, etc.) until the crisis has ended. These bags will be the subject of simple, external identification (by means of insulating tape, for example) and will be deposited in the manner set out by the authorities with responsibility for waste collection. They will be managed in the same way as previously described.

Healthcare waste and similar waste

Waste from hospitals, ambulances, medical centres, laboratories, etc., in contact with COVID 19 will be dealt with in the manner set out in regional regulations governing healthcare waste.