Govt notifies new rules to manage biomedical waste

Biomedical waste has been classified into four categories instead of the earlier 10 to improve the segregation of waste at source


Photo: Arvind Yadav/Hindustan Times
Photo: Arvind Yadav/Hindustan Times

New Delhi: The Union government on Sunday notified new rules for the management of bio-medical wastes in the country that prescribe more stringent standards for incinerators to reduce emissions and envisage the creation of a bar code system for bags containing such refuse.

The environment ministry’s Bio-medical Waste Management Rules, 2016 also brings vaccination, blood donation and surgical camps under its ambit while providing for pre-treatment of laboratory and microbiological waste, and blood samples and bags on-site as prescribed by the World Health Organization and the National Aids Control Organization.

Under the new rules, biomedical waste has been classified into four categories instead of the earlier 10 to improve the segregation of waste at source. Also, the procedure for getting authorization has been simplified.

“The new biomedical waste management rules will change the way the country used to manage this waste earlier. Under the new regime, the coverage will increase. It also provides for pre-treatment of lab waste and blood samples. It mandates barcode system for proper control and has simplified categorization and authorization. Thus it will make a big difference to the Clean India Mission,” environment minister Prakash Javadekar said while releasing the new rules.

Biomedical waste comprises human and animal anatomical waste, treatment apparatus such as needles, syringes and other material used at healthcare facilities.

This waste is generated during diagnosis, treatment or immunization at hospitals, nursing homes, pathological laboratories and blood banks. The total biomedical waste generation in the country is 484 tonnes per day (TPD) from 1,68,869 healthcare facilities. Of this, 447 TPD is treated, ministry officials said.

Under the new rules, use of chlorinated plastic bags, gloves and blood bags will be phased out within two years while training will be provided to all healthcare workers, who will also be immunized regularly. A ministry statement said that under the new rules, bedded hospitals will get automatic authorization while there would be a one-time authorization for non-bedded hospitals.

Under the new rules, the state government concerned will provide land for the setting up of common biomedical waste treatment and disposal facilities.

At the same time, the new rules said that no occupier may establish an on-site treatment and disposal facility if a common biomedical waste treatment facility is available within a radius of 75 km. The operator of common biomedical waste treatment and disposal facility has to ensure timely collection of biomedical waste from the healthcare facilities and also assist them in conducting training, the new rules said.

The environment ministry said 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 at a clinic.

It said that only 15% of hospital waste is infectious or hazardous. The draft biomedical waste rules were published in June last year following which the view of the public was sought regarding the same.

Stakeholder consultations were organized in New Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata while meetings with central ministries, state governments, state pollution control boards and major hospitals were also held.

The suggestions and objections which were received were examined by a working group of the ministry and, based on its recommendations, the new rules were drawn up. There are 198 common biomedical waste treatment facilities in operation while 28 more are being created. As many as 21,870 healthcare facilities have their own treatment facility while 1,31,837 have to rely on common facilities.

READ MORE