COVID-19: Environmentalist cautions waste collectors on proper disposal

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Mr Adewole Taiwo, on Monday advised waste collectors in Lagos on safe disposal so as to prevent a further spread of COVID-19 in the state.

Taiwo, a manager at RecycleNG, a waste management company, gave the advice in an interview with reporters.

He said there was the need to tread with caution in waste collection in order not to trigger the spread of COVID-19 via improper waste management.

Taiwo also called for more training for the stakeholders in waste collection, especially the private sector participants (PSP) and medical waste collectors, on proper waste disposal.

“My concern is that some of the infected COVID-19 patients are in their homes, and even some are in the hotels, while their wastes are treated as general waste.

“But waste from these patients are not really general waste or medical waste”. The PSP waste collectors are only trained as general wastes’ collectors while those that collect medical waste are trained, specialized vehicles and waste bags are also used for these collections.

“In the last few weeks now, we have so many latex hand gloves and medical nose masks in our general waste bin, which may be infected with COVID-19 virus.

“Eighty per cent of our PSP pick-up teams lack proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

“So, I feel there should be a collaboration between the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) and the Lagos State Safety Commission (LSSC) on equipping the PSP operators and in-house training,’’ he told NAN.

Taiwo also called on LAWMA to equip the PSP operators with proper waste management protective outfits.

In addition, he cautioned Lagos residents against burning household waste, urging them to “live sustainably’’.

“Although LAWMA is currently fumigating the dumpsites and other waste collection facilities around the state, but are we sure all the PSP trucks are fumigated?

“Are all the PSP operators fully equipped and warned against using bare hands to evacuate waste?

“How many PSP, for instance, has LAWMA penalized for not keeping to safety guidelines? How many PSP operators have been penalized for not picking up waste in the areas allocated to them?’’

According to the environmentalist, the best treatment for COVID-19 waste is through smokeless biomedical incineration under high temperature.

“Burning of household waste is a not ideal. It will cause more harm to the environment.

“The best option is waste sorting and separation at source.

Also he suggested “We should also encourage recycling and backyard composting of organic waste.

“With that, a time will come that the PSP operators will be the ones begging and knocking your door to ask for your general waste,’’ Taiwo said.