UNEP | COVID-19 Waste management Factsheets

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In response to COVID-19, hospitals, healthcare facilities and individuals are producing more waste than usual, including masks, gloves, gowns and other protective equipment that could be infected with the virus. There is also a large increase in the amount of single use plastics being produced. When not managed soundly, infected medical waste could be subject to uncontrolled dumping, leading to public health risks, and to open burning or uncontrolled incineration, leading to the release of toxins in the environment and to secondary transmission of diseases to humans. Other wastes can reach water sources and add to riverine and marine pollution.

Factsheet 1 - Introduction to COVID-19 waste management:
The UNEP COVID-19 Waste Management Factsheets outline UNEP advice to mitigate the adverse impacts of the pandemic on global environment: from how to safely manage the increase of waste produced in response to the crisis, to how to control releases of harmful chemicals in the atmosphere, land and water.

Factsheet 2 -National medical waste capacity assessment:
Environmentally sound management of medical waste is one of the key challenges during normal times in many countries. During emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic, these challenges are magnified because the amount of waste produced increases. This factsheet will help countries in assessing the quantity of infected waste that is potentially produced, and the available technologies that they could use to treat the waste.

Factsheet 3 -How to choose your waste management technology to treat COVID-19 waste:
As countries develop an inventory of the existing national waste management facilities, they select environmentally sound options for waste treatment using the UNEP Sustainability Assessment of Technologies (SAT) guidance on Best Available Technology and Best Environmental Practices (BAT/BEP).

Factsheet 4 -Policy and legislation linked to COVID-19 pandemics:
Guidance on policy and legislation will help countries to have a stable legal and institutional basis to better respond to future waste emergencies such as the COVID-19, and to clarify measures to be taken.

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