The National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), is partnering with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to manage COVID-generated waste through the installation of yellow bins and bags in all public transport vehicles in the country.
DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the "yellow bins and bags will make it convenient for commuters to dispose of their used face masks so these are not mixed with other trash."
"We need to properly segregate and dispose of these potentially contaminated masks, whether these are from our households or these were used while commuting, to prevent the further spread of COVID-19," Cimatu said.
The NSWMC issued Resolution No. 1469, Series of 2021, enjoining the DOTr to install yellow bins and bags in all transport vehicles in the aviation, maritime, and railways sectors for the proper storage of generated COVID-19 waste while on transit.
The resolution is also in line with the previous NSWMC Resolution No. 1429 to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Cimatu also directed the strict monitoring of health care wastes from international aircraft and cruise ships as these are also potential sources of the virus.
DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns Benny D. Antiporda said the NSWMC resolution is a significant move to properly manage COVID-related health care wastes, noting that "personal protective equipment such as face masks will never go away in the near future."
"We need to do something about the growing number of these household health care wastes para hindi na magkalat sa ating mga waterways at main thoroughfares. Hindi na lang nila din iipit sa mga puno," Antiporda said.
During the NSWMC en banc meeting on Nov. 24, 2021, Antiporda marked the said resolution as urgent due to the continuing use of face masks, tissue papers, face shields, and surgical gloves.
The implementation of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 has been at the top of Cimatu’s priority since he became the DENR chief in 2017.
In December 2021, the DENR proposed a P181.6-million budget for the establishment of a preliminary treatment and storage facility for COVID-related health care waste this year. ###