The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) assured the public of the establishment of guidelines and procedures for the proper disposal of medical vials and syringes used for coronavirus vaccine injections.

DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns Benny D. Antiporda pointed out that there is already an existing set of guidelines on managing hazardous waste as stated in the DENR-Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) memorandum circulars 2020-14, 2020-15 and 2020-16 on the issuance of Special Permit to Transport for the treatment and disposal of healthcare wastes.

"We have already laid down the guidelines ever since the lockdown started last year, and one of the requirements in the memo is to monitor the healthcare wastes coming from healthcare institutions as well as COVID-19 Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) -designated quarantine facilities," Antiporda said.

As of January 2021, DENR has registered 53 transporters and 23 TSD (treatment, storage and disposal) facilities nationwide.

These transporters and TSD facilities receive the healthcare wastes from hospitals for safe transport, treatment and disposal.

Under the DENR-EMB memorandum circulars, syringes and vials used for inoculation are classified as hazardous waste and requires special permit for transport. These hazardous wastes are also treated by the DENR-registered service providers before disposal.

Moreover, Antiporda said the DENR is also following the standards set forth by the Asian Development Bank under its Due Diligence on the Philippine COVID-19 Immunization Waste Management Plan.

He noted that in addition to the EMB guidelines that have been released during the start of the pandemic, the DENR will still issue a memorandum to highlight the disposal of the vaccines based on the existing laws and mandates "to avoid confusion and misinterpretation."

"We want to assure every Filipino that we are doing our job in the DENR for the proper disposal of the vials and syringes for the government's immunization program so that we can do our part to mitigate the spread of the deadly virus," Antiporda said. ###