As South Africa faces a third wave of coronavirus infections, it has never been more important for each of us to do our part to keep ourselves, and others, safe.
Obviously, that means wearing masks and keeping our distance. But it also means we need to take extra care with how we handle our waste. This is particularly important if you are quarantining, or if you have any symptoms or suspicions that you may have contracted Covid-19.
Justice Tootla, MD of the waste and recycling company Averda explains there’s been a significant increase in household medical and PPE waste recently. “During the third wave, many South Africans have found themselves having to recover from the virus at home.”
Tootla shared concerns that some of this health waste is not being dealt with correctly. Whether the public are self-isolating at home or possibly not even aware that they have the virus, waste items such as used tissues are being disposed of in regular rubbish bins.
“If you have the slightest suspicion that you may have the virus or are feeling under the weather, it is advisable to double bag your waste and take extra care when disposing of it.”
He explains that to ensure clean and healthy environments during this pandemic, all waste will need to be removed safely and that cleaning schedules need not be complicated with only a two-step approach required.
Firstly, start in the home where all personal and sanitary items, for example used tissues, should be doubled bagged and definitely kept separate from recyclable waste. The City of Cape Town Municipality also advises keeping this waste on the property for at least five days before placing it out for collection in the general waste bin.
Secondly all households should continue to disinfect their bins; you can use a regular hand sanitiser, or you can use a household bleach solution. Remember if you have a wheelie bin, always disinfect your bin’s handles and lids before and after collection.
Remember, waste collectors touch thousands of bins in a day’s collection, putting them at greater risk and with them encountering multiple touch points during the day, they can pass the virus on to many households or even risk infecting members of their household.
These steps will not only keep your household safe but also the community around you, ensuring that infected items do not come into contact with local waste pickers, waste collectors or the public before it is incinerated.
“Whatever challenges you may face, solutions exist, and because waste management companies have been classified as essential service providers, they are available to support you, whatever lockdown level the country – or province – may be at.
“It is important that each South African citizen take personal responsibility for the disposal of their waste and help in preventing the spread of Covid-19,” says Tootla.