No masking the mounting garbage problem in Karnataka

Citizens have been urged to use reusable masks.

Citizens have been urged to use reusable masks.  

‘Masks, PPE kits make up for around 3,000 kg of waste daily’

They are now a necessity by situation and law. But the disposable variety of masks are adding to a mounting problem of waste that authorities are grappling about, prompting the government to urge citizens to make the switch to a more sustainable variety.

Medical Education Minister K. Sudhakar, on Monday, tweeted about the increasing COVID-19 related waste being generated. He said masks, PPE kits and gloves make up for around 3,000 kg of waste every day and urged people to start using reusable masks, even if home made, to reduce the burden on solid waste infrastructure.

According to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), over 4,000 kg of biomedical waste is being generated from the city’s quarantine centres.

“The general public though is primarily using the reusable variety — be it masks or some form of it. Probably 10% to 15% is using disposable ones. It does not make economic sense to use them. So a majority of the biomedical waste is from the quarantine centres. We have authorised agencies to collect them. The PPE kits are coming in from containment zones,” explained BBMP Joint Commissioner (Solid Waste Management) Sarfaraz Khan.

He also said pourakarmikas have been instructed not to touch masks in case they come across them without wearing safety gear. They are handed over to the biomedical waste handling agency and incinerated, he added.

Cloth mask makers have urged citizens to choose reusable masks, convincing them that they are easy to wash and use, and much more economical in the long run while also being eco-friendly.

Due to the uncertainty surrounding the COVID situation, the number of people switching to reusable masks is on a steady increase, say those who have started making cloth masks. Playback singer Divya Raghavan and her mother Gita Ramaswami started making cloth masks on request from relatives and friends, who knew about the latter’s sewing prowess. “By word of mouth, we ended up catering to demand for 1,000 masks since May 1. As we make these out of cotton, people find them much more comfortable. We are making them in three sizes - kids, teenagers and adults, and we have been getting bulk orders from apartments as well,” she said.

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Printable version | Jul 11, 2020 1:52:37 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/no-masking-the-mounting-garbage-problem-in-state/article31845267.ece

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