hospital waste
hospital wasteReuters

Indian government Sunday released a new set of rules, the Bio-medical Waste Management Rules (BWMR) 2016, which addresses the issues of segregation, disposal and handling techniques of biomedical waste. The new set of rules directs the discontinuation of the use of chlorinated plastic bags, gloves and blood bags within two years in a phase-wise manner. 

The BWMR, 2016 also spells out a bar-code system to be put in place to classify for disposal of bags or containers containing bio-medical waste. The new rules are applicable for wastes from vaccination camps, blood donation camps, surgical camps or any other healthcare activity,

"The new biomedical waste management rules will change the way the country used to manage this waste earlier," Prakash Javadekar, the union minister of state for environment, forest and climate change, said while releasing BWMR, 2016. "Under the new regime, the coverage has increased and also provides for pre-treatment of lab waste, blood samples, etc. It mandates bar code system for proper control. It has simplified categorisation and authorisation. Thus, it will make a big difference to clean India Mission," he added.

Biomedical waste comprises human and animal anatomical waste as well as treatment apparatus waste like needles, syringes and other materials used in healthcare facilities (HCFs) in the process of treatment and research. This waste is generated during diagnosis, treatment or immunisation in hospitals, nursing homes, pathological laboratories and blood banks, among other HCFs.

In India, the total biomedical waste generated is 484 total and permanent discharge (TPD) from 1,68,869 healthcare facilities, out of which 447 TPD is treated, according to an official statement. The quantum of waste generated in India is estimated to be 1-2 kg per bed per day in a hospital and 600 gm per day per bed in a clinic. Nearly 85 percent of the hospital waste is non-hazardous while 15 percent is infectious or hazardous.

According to the new rules, the pre-treatment of laboratory waste, microbiological waste, blood samples and blood bags through disinfection or sterilisation on site should be carried out as prescribed by the World Health Organisation or National Aids Control Orgnaisation (NACO).

The waste has been classified into four categories instead of 10 to improve the segregation of waste at source. More stringent standards have been prescribed for incinerators to reduce the emission of pollutants in the environment. States have been directed to provide land for setting up common biomedical waste treatment and disposal facility. Hospitals have been directed to set up mechanisms for effective disposal, either directly or through common biomedical waste treatment and disposal facilities.

India currently has 198 common biomedical waste treatment facilities (CBMWF) while 28 such facilities are under construction. The statement said 21,870 HCFs have their own treatment facilities while 1,31,837 HCFs are using the CBMWFs.