Medical Waste Overflowing in the Landfills and Oceans?

Updated: Mar 2



Medical waste normally cannot be recycled because of contamination and potential hazards. Since Covid-19 first began in 2019, hospitals have been constantly wearing masks, gloves, and gowns, using needles, and offer of medications. In addition, bed sheets from hospital rooms of covid patient have been thrown out as well. These are all going to the landfill. How would it after medical waste from the Covid pandemic lands in landfills?


Covid-19 has been the majority of medical waste used by hospitals across the nation. By the end of the whole Covid pandemic, landfills will be completely dumped with hospital waste, such as masks, gloves and gowns worn by nurses and doctors, gowns from patients, and medical equipment. We even added plastic waste up to approximately 8 million tons during this pandemic. On top of that, there is 25,000 tons flowing into the rivers and oceans. In addition to plastic waste, medical waste such as old PPE may be burnt down to reduce landfill build-up. This process is noticeably creating greenhouse-gases because the burning of plastic waste emits carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the air.






Regardless, according to Executive Director WHO Health Emergencies Program, Michael Ryan, it is very important to provide health care workers with the right PPE. It is also important that it be used safely without affecting our environment.



Additionally, there are other hazardous waste flows through the landfills and oceans.



To clarify, I put a list of hazardous waste materials so you would better understand what is considered hazardous waste.


Hazardous waste includes…

  • Pharmaceutical Waste ---- drugs that been expired or is contaminated; unused vaccinations

  • Infectious waste ---- waste contaminated bodily fluids and patient-infectious waste

  • Sharps waste ---- sharp surgical equipment and needles

  • Pathological Waste ---- organs, fluids, tissues

  • Cytotoxic Waste ---- waste containing genotoxic properties such as extremely hazardous cancer drugs like mutagenic, teratogenic, or carcinogen

  • Radioactive Waste ---- products contaminated with radioactive material. These includes radiotherapeutic materials.

  • Heavy Metal Waste ---- broken mercury thermometers; lead, and arsenic




EPA has authority over medical waste remedy technologies, which claim to lessen the infectiousness of the waste that uphold any antimicrobial activity) by means of chemical usage. FIFRA, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act regulates these standards.

Researchers came up with a new plan to cut down a number of the medical waste, such as PPE filling up the land. They worked to find a way to actually use this waste to our benefit. On this account, these researchers have mentioned their plan in the journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy.

There are two proposed steps—the first is taking waste PPE from hospitals and healthcare facilities. They would then place it at medical waste processing and decontamination centers. At these centers, medical equipment would be sterilized and shredded into tiny pieces. This may prove to be very beneficial to invest in this process, which would only cost only few million dollars. Low cost, but ir is very beneficial to the environment.


There are two proposed steps—the first is taking waste PPE from hospitals and healthcare facilities. They would then place it at medical waste processing and decontamination centers. At these centers, medical equipment would be sterilized and shredded into tiny pieces. This may prove to be very beneficial to invest in this process, which would only cost only few million dollars. Low cost, but it is very beneficial to the environment.



Because of this Covid-19 pandemic, medical waste in landfills and oceans may contribute to air and water pollution. This is because of the potential health risks and injuries when handling trash bags. Additionally, hazardous waste flows through the landfills as well.


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