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Bio waste Management in India During the Pandemic

Updated: Jan 20


The year 2020 will be remembered for the pandemic COVID-19 and its impact on human kinds. There are several reasons why various groups of human beings are affected differently. Although the environment breathed fresh during the COVID- 19 lockdown, the main concern of the disposal of biomedical waste is questionable in India even worldwide.

What is Bio-waste?

According to the World Health Organization, bio waste includes waste generated by health care activities includes a broad range of materials, from used needles and syringes to soiled dressings, body parts, blood, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, medical devices, diagnostic samples, and radioactive materials.

Bio/ medical waste classified by the World Health Organization:

  1. Anything infectious or contaminated comes under the Infectious Waste

  2. Waste like needles, scalpels, broken glass and razors comes under the Sharps

  3. Human or animal tissue, body parts, blood, and fluids comes under the Pathological Waste

  4. Unused and expired drug or medicines, like creams, pills, antibiotics comes under the Pharmaceutical Waste

  5. Cytotoxic drugs and other hazardous toxic waste, that’s carcinogenic, mutagenic or teratogenic comes under the Genotoxic Waste

  6. Any waste containing potentially radioactive materials comes under the Radioactive Waste

  7. Liquid waste, typically from machines, batteries and disinfectants is the part of the Chemical Waste

  8. All other, non-hazardous waste is called as general or other Waste.

On hazardous and other wastes the most inclusive global environmental treaty is the Basel Convention on Hazardous Waste with 170 member countries and its objectives are to protect human health and the environment against the adverse effects.

In 2006, Certain guidelines on best available techniques and provisional guidance on best environmental practices were released.

Bio-Waste Management In India

During this COVID- 19 situation, the Central Pollution Control Board of India released guidelines under the Bio-Medical Waste Management Rules, 2016 to ensure that the waste generated specifically during testing of people and treatment of patients of COVID-19 is disposed of scientifically. On 24 April 2020, The National Green Tribunal directed a team which comprised the centre and the Central Pollution Control Board, to supervise handling and scientific disposal of COVID-19 waste.

Bio-Medical Waste Management Rules, 2016

In India, The Bio-Medical Waste Management Rules 2016 is the only legislation which deals with the biowaste disposal.

Bio-medical waste is categorized into four categories as per the Bio-Medical Waste Management Rules, 2016.

  1. Yellow Category: In this category included given below wastes, Human Anatomical Waste, Animal Anatomical Waste, etc.

  2. Red Category: This category consists of the wastes generated from disposable items such as bottles, tubing, intravenous tubes and sets, gloves, urine bags, catheters, syringes that come without needles, fixed needle syringes and vacationers with their needles cut.

  3. White Category: Needles, needles from needle tip cutter or burner, syringes with fixed needles, blades, scalpels, or any other contaminated sharp object that may cause puncture and cuts.

  4. Blue Category: In this category included Glassware, Metallic Body Implants wastes.

Judicial Stances in Disposing of The Bio-waste.

In the case of Harnam Singh vs Union of India, The Supreme Court took their concern towards the disposal of biowaste during COVID – 19 on 1st June 2020. According to the Supreme Court, ‘bio-medical waste is being dumped at common dumping grounds which can itself be a breeding ground of COVID-19 infection if any person unknowingly comes in contact with infected PPE kits as also gloves, masks, etc. It’s a matter of concern as scavengers will be the first ones to be exposed to infection.’

Another case in April 2018, the High Court suggested that the guidelines for implementing the Bar Code System for Effective Management of Bio-medical Waste can be issued by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). In these guidelines, the implementation of the bar-code-based system for disposal of biomedical waste required the Common Bio-medical Waste Treatment Facility (CBWTF), appointed by the concerned State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) or Pollution Control Committee (in Union Territories). To procure and maintain Bar Code Based Waste Management System software, the details of bio-waste would be generated by the healthcare facilities (such as hospitals and clinics etc.) which would be uploaded and stored on a cloud-based server later.


During this COVID- 19 situations, the various guidelines by the Central Government, State Government, and by the National green tribunal were issued. Various judgments of the Supreme Court and the High Court also try to order the concerned person to follow Rule, 2016 & Rule, 2018 in disposing of the bio-waste.


Anjali Dixit is currently working as an Assistant professor.

They can be contacted at anjalidixitlexamicus@gmail.com

Edited By: Swathi. Ashok. Nair.


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