The COVID-19 Pandemic has forced the Indian Government to frame more stringent
laws relating to disposal of Bio-medical waste. The Central Government under
powers conferred by section 6, 8 and 25 published the Bio-medical Waste
Management Rules, 2016 vide notification No. G.S.R.343(E) on 28th March 2016.
The same superseded the Bio-Medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules 1998,
except in respect of things done or omitted to be done before such super session.
The guidelines have been revised three times. The latest Revision was published
on 21st July 2020, which provides for revised guidance on segregation of general
solid waste and bio-medical waste from quarantine centres/home care/healthcare
facilities treating COVID-19 patients and recommends disposal of PPE kits.
In addition to existing practices under Bio-Medical Waste Management Rules 2016,
the new Guidelines have to be followed by all the stakeholders including
isolation wards, quarantine centres, sample collection centres, laboratories,
ULBs and common biomedical waste treatment and disposal facilities.
The Revised Guidelines applicable to COVID-19 Isolation wards are set out
- Separate foot operated lids with colour coded bins/bags/containers to be
kept in wards and proper segregation of waste to be maintained.
- Isolation wards to use double layered bags using 2 bags for collection
of such waste.
- COVID-19 waste to be stored in a dedicated collection bin labelled as
COVID-19 and kept separately in temporary storage rooms prior to handing over to
authorized staff of CBWTF which may also lift the waste directly from ward into
CBWTF collection van.
- Mandatory labelling of bags/containers used for collecting biomedical
waste from COVID-19 wards as “COVID-19 Waste”.
- General solid waste to be collected separately as per Solid Waste
Management Rules, 2016.
- Non-disposable items to be used for serving food in order to minimise
waste generation, to be handled with appropriate precautions and cleaned and
disinfected as per hospital guidelines. If use of disposable items is
inevitable, bio-degradable cutlery to be used. The wet and dry solid waste bags
to be tied securely in leak-proof bags, sprayed with sodium hypo-chlorite
solution and handed over to authorized waste collectors of ULBs on daily basis.
Compostable bags to be used for collecting wet-waste.
- Separate records of waste generated from COVID-19 isolation wards to be
- Dedicated trolleys and collection bins bearing a label “COVID-19 Waste”
to be used in COVID-19 isolation wards.
- The (inner and outer) surface of containers/bins/trolleys used for
storage of COVID-19 waste to be disinfected with 1% sodium hypochlorite
solution on a daily basis.
- Opening or operation of COVID-19 ward and COVID-19 ICU ward to be
reported to the SPCBs/PCCs and respective CBWTF located in the area.
- The details of COVID-19 biomedical waste generation to be registered and
updated in CPCB mobile application namely ‘COVID19 BWM’.
- Faeces from COVID-19 confirmed patient and excreta collected in diaper, to
be treated as biomedical waste and to be placed in yellow bag/container.
However, if bed pan used, then faeces to be washed into toilets and cleaned with
a neutral detergent and water, disinfected with 0.5% chlorine solution and then
rinsed with water.
- Used PPEs such as goggles, face-shield, splash proof apron, plastic
coveralls, hazmet suits, nitrile gloves to be put into red bags for collection
by authorized disposal agency.
- Used masks including triple layered mask, N95 mask, etc., head
cover/cap, shoe-cover, disposable linen gown, non-plastic or semi-plastic
coverall to be put into yellow bags for collection by authorized disposal
- Used masks, tissues and toiletries of COVID-19 patient to be segregated
into yellow bags as biomedical waste.
- Segregation of biomedical waste and general solid waste to be done at
the point of generation in wards/ isolation rooms. There should be no
segregation of biomedical waste and solid waste at temporary waste
collection/storage area of Healthcare Facility to ensure occupational
- Proper training to be provided to waste handlers about infection
prevention measures such as Hand hygiene, Respiratory etiquettes, social
distancing, use of appropriate PPE, etc. via videos and demonstration in local language. Designated
nodal officer for biomedical waste management in hospital to provide the
requisite training. Nodal officers, in turn, to be trained by Health Departments
/ professional agencies in association with SPCB/ PCC of the States/ UTs.
The Revised Guidelines also set out the procedure applicable to sample
collection centres and laboratories who are duty bound to report opening and
operation of COVID-19 sample collection centres and laboratories. Further, the
Revised Guidelines prescribe pre-treatment of viral transport media, plastic
vials, vacutainers, eppendorf tubes, plastic cryovials, pipette tips as per BMWM
Rules, 2016 which are to be collected in red bags.
The Revised Guidelines also fix responsibilities of persons operating Quarantine
Centres/Camps/ Home Quarantine or Home-Care facilities. Further, the Revised
Guidelines prescribe exhaustive guidelines and duties of the CBWTF with respect
to waste collection and disposal of COVID-19 waste.
The Revised Guidelines also place specific responsibilities on urban local
bodies, State Pollution Control Board/ Pollution Control Committees and persons
operating in Quarantine Camps/ Quarantine Homes/Home-care units. This revision
will also help all stake holders in managing, handling and treating and
disposing bio-medical waste.
Although the Revised Guidelines are an attempt by the Government to maintain
high standards of sanitation and safety, doctors working in the field feel that
the same has become a major challenge because of over-crowded hospitals and also
in rural areas where facilities and equipments are lacking and it would have
been advisable for the Government to put in place proper and adequate facilities
before enforcing such guidelines.
Written By: Anita Shekhar Castellino
- Advocate, Bombay High Court