In perhaps an indication of how ferocious the pandemic has been, India generated 56,898 tonnes of Covid-19 bio-medical waste between June 2020 and June 2021, data from the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change shows.
The waste burden correlates to some extent to infections. Maharashtra generated the maximum at 8,317 tonnes, followed by Kerala (6,442), Gujarat (5,004), Tamil Nadu (4,835), Delhi (3,995), Uttar Pradesh (3,881) and Karnataka (3,133).
Experts say the lack of total correlation between infections and the waste burden only shows the data is at odds with the ground situation.
To track Covid bio-medical waste (BMW) and ensure safe disposal, the ministry had developed Covid BMW, an app. As of May, there were 198 common BMW treatment and disposal facilities in the country. Maharashtra has the highest at 29, while Karnataka has 26.
Data with the central pollution control board shows peak generation of about 250 tonnes per day (TPD) was reported on May 10, when the second wave was at its peak in multiple states. The peak generation last year was in the 180–220 TPD range.
PPE constitutes a major portion of the waste. Early in the pandemic, even food waste generated by a Covid patient was treated as bio-medical waste and incinerated.