The Victorian Aged Care Response Centre has rapidly coordinated a cross government effort to manage a 100-fold increase in clinical waste being produced to handle coronavirus outbreaks in some of Victoria’s aged care facilities.
The Response Centre has acted quickly and worked with the private industry, Victorian Government and regulators to secure storage containers, rubbish collection, incinerators and safe disposal and processing of the waste.
There are currently 115 aged care facilities in Victoria with an active case of coronavirus. This is a reduction of 14 facilities over the past week.
Joe Buffone, Victorian Aged Care Response Centre Executive Officer, said the waste increase at those facilities was due to the amount of personal protective equipment for required 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.”
Mr Buffone said government agencies had worked to streamline the permit process for both collecting and safely disposing of the waste. The Federal Government is funding additional waste collection services and the coordination of the waste management.
He said the measures being taken were designed to provide extra capacity, and streamline permits, while maintaining Victoria’s normal 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.”