Tag Archive for: waste management

Overcoming Medical Waste Problem during the Pandemic

Written by Adides Gideon Simanjuntak, Rafy Ramadhan, Stephanie Ruth Armida: Content Writer Interns Project Child Indonesia

It has been more than a year since we have our ‘14 days quarantine’. Who would have thought that the pandemic would stick around for such a long time? Just imagine all the medical waste we have produced up until now! If we do not pay any attention to medical waste, it will cause us problems in the future. Let us see what medical waste actually is, what are the problems caused by it, and what we can do to help!

What is Medical Waste?

According to WHO, Medical Waste can be classified as waste that is generated with the body fluids/contact with human beings or animals. Masks, gloves, hazmat suits, and other used medical devices from COVID-19 testings are the common examples of medical waste that has increased during the pandemic. Medical waste comes not only from hospitals, but also from households. Everyone produces medical waste, including us. 

Problems Arise

As the number of COVID-19 patients keeps getting higher each day, the number of PPEs (Personal Protection Equipments) used is also getting higher. This results in more medical waste produced. Unfortunately, our country hasn’t been able to handle it very well. Due to COVID-19, medical waste in Indonesia has reached 6.417,95 tons as of February 4th, 2021.

Right now, our country is facing problems from several dimensions:

  • Environmental
    • Most PPEs contain polypropylene, polyurethane, polyacrylonitrile, polyethylene, and polyethylene terephthalate, chemicals that make it harder to break down. The fragmentation of it will not only harm the land, but also the water ecosystems in rivers and the sea.  They can tangle and poison animals such as fish and birds that live near water. 
    • PPEs will release toxins if they are burned in the open, causing air pollution. Medical waste such as these has to be incinerated to kill the dangerous elements in it. However, even Incinerators cause pollution, meaning more health problems to the respiratory system and the skin. 
    • Landfills are overwhelmed by medical waste. The degradation process of medical waste can release the toxic chemicals to an open environment which can be hazardous to people around the area. 
  • Social

Because rivers are now heavily polluted with medical waste, families who rely their lives  on rivers are at risk. For example, residents who depend on the Cisadane river for their daily necessities are now scared of using the water because it’s too dangerous (Keck, 2020). Workers who rely on waste picking are also impacted because they have to be in contact with the medical waste; hence, they have a bigger risk of catching the virus. 

  • Economic

To save our country, our government has to work on solutions, and they definitely cost a lot of money. For example, they are building new incinerator plants, and while the government is working on those, they also have to spend more on third-parties in order to let hospitals use their incinerators to burn medical waste.

The Good News

You can a little be at ease, because our government and other bigger parties surely are working on the solutions for our medical waste problems. One of them is that our government is cooperating with cement factories by using their kilns as incinerators. In the meantime, Rosa Vivien Ratnawati, the Director-General for Solid Waste, Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Substances Management at the Ministry of Environment and Forestry of the Republic of Indonesia stated in one of Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI)’s webinar last year that the government is currently focusing on building five new incinerators this year and a total of 32 incinerators within the next five year.

Another solution comes from LIPI. They are working on an environmentally-friendly method which is called recrystallization. It even produces recycled plastics with higher purity, as explained by Sunit Hendrana (2021), one of the researchers in LIPI. 

Lastly, our government also utilizes autoclaves, a sustainable tool to manage medical waste. It sterilizes medical waste using heat from pressured steam. WHO is working with our Ministry of Environment and Forestry and in collaboration with UNDP on building four autoclaves in hope that it can help solve the lack of incinerators in the country.

What Can We Do to Help?

There are many things we can do to help our environment, and they are very simple! Starting off small, we can reduce disposable mask consumption by wearing a double cloth mask or reusable mask such as the N95 mask. It might seem trivial, but if everyone does it, we can eventually reduce huge numbers of domestic medical waste. Also, in case you are unsure what to do with your medical waste, you can disinfect them simply by soaking in bleach/detergent before disposing of them at your nearest public health center (hospitals, clinics) where they can help you with better medical waste management. Remember, even the smallest thing can bring a huge impact if done by a lot of people. Stay safe and stay kind to our environment!

References:

Keck, M. (2020, September 7). COVID-19 Medical Waste Is Heavily Polluting This River in Indonesia. Global Citizen. https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/covid-19-medical-waste-Cisadane-river/

Lembaga Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonesia. (2021, January). Rekristalisasi, Solusi Daur Ulang Sampah Medis. http://lipi.go.id/berita/single/Rekristalisasi-Solusi-Daur-Ulang-Sampah-Medis/22316

Rikin, A.S. (2020, April 22). KLHK Akan Bangun 5 Insinerator Tahun Ini. Bisnis.com. https://ekonomi.bisnis.com/read/20200422/99/1230996/klhk-akan-bangun-5-insinerator-tahun-ini

Effortless Sustainable Swaps for a Better Planet

Written by Dara Ayu Ariane, Content Writer Intern at Project Child Indonesia

Thousands of Jakarta residents were evacuated from southern and eastern areas of the city. They witnessed their cars and homes almost entirely submerged in the shoulder-high muddy waters. As mere onlookers, we often consider what else we can do to help lessen the current and upcoming environmental disasters. With a rising urgency to offer a helping hand in one of the biggest global challenges, sometimes the fight against climate change can feel extremely overwhelming. This doesn’t mean we can’t also make our own unique impact through our individual choices. Remember that everyone can do good, and even though our actions may seem small at first, keep on reading and let us help you by challenging yourselves with these effortless sustainable swaps! 

SUSTAINABLE HOME

Hop onto your favorite e-commerce because it is time for a sustainable home-makeover! We recommend shopping from one store that offers a wide range of eco-friendly house products and opting for regular shipping duration. We prefer to shop in the store physically to reduce the CO2 emissions from shipping, but with Miss Rona still out and about lurking around every coughing corner, we advise to keep your distance and shop online in bulk. 

Some of the online stores worth browsing over if you’re in or near the Jakarta area are Demi Bumi, Sustaination.ID, Greenhabit.id and Zero Waste Indonesia that offer various sustainable goods worth trying and complete with eco-friendly packaging! Here are some products you should consider on buying: 

  • Goodbye plastic trash bag, hello Cassava Bag! Made from natural resins derived from 98% tapioca starch, 1% vegetable oil, and 1% natural biopolymer, this super bag can be composted and consumed by micro-organisms in the soil!
  • Multi-purpose Loofah, made from natural fiber from oyong and commonly used as a substitute for bath foam or dishwashing. 
  • Lerak Soap, a 100% natural cleanser without chemicals and can be used as laundry detergent, dish & hand soap, and others. 
  • Natural Deodorant made from batu tawas is hypoallergenic, easy to wash and eliminates odor-causing bacteria. 
  • Bamboo/Wheat-straw Toothbrush 
  • Have any leftover food or ingredients and you’re unsure how to store it? It’s time to try Beeswax Wrap! An environmentally friendly and reusable replacement for cling wrap. Protects food, fruit and vegetables from air and moisture to keep them fresh for even longer.
  • Not forgetting our precious self-care time, it’s best to switch to using reusable cotton pads and DIY masks & scrubs
  • If you’re feeling a little bit more adventurous and brave, for all our lovely lady friends out there, switching to a reusable menstrual cup or pad is worth trying. Not only is it capable of replacing up to 3-5 years worth of normal pads without producing waste byproduct, it can also last for up to 12 hours a day! 

Once we’re all set with these amazing sustainable products, now is the time to tackle our household waste management system. Indonesia is estimated to produce roughly 190,000 tons of waste each day with 20% percent of the plastic waste is believed to end up in rivers and coastal areas (Mann, 2019). Our landfills alone remain to be inadequate solutions to this problem due to the lack of soil to bury the waste or land to build a sanitary site. Before you start panicking, let’s not forget our nearby trash banks! Another social enterprise we can rely on is Waste4Change with its Personal Waste Management subscription service. It offers monthly inorganic waste collection services directly from our homes. Therefore, it doesn’t only help us to be more responsible with our household waste, but also to practice sorting out our trash based on its categories!  

SUSTAINABLE ME 

Our products at home may be eco-friendly, but don’t forget to break them bad habits and start behaving more environmentally conscious. A few simple tweaks to our lifestyle can have a big impact on our environmental footprint! 

  • Set a timer for your AC. We know the weather in Indonesia can get quite hot, but reducing household energy use can help reduce carbon footprint even more.
  • Save water, time your shower! A 10-minute shower uses about 80 gallons of water and can produce up to 1kg of CO2 emissions (Spector, 2019). 
  • Most people don’t realize how much food they throw away on a daily basis. By planning our meals for the week, we are reducing our food waste, saving money and conserving resources for marginalized communities. 
  • Think twice and use your voice. Get involved with environmental platforms and communities to further educate ourselves on the current issues. Similarly, pay attention to product labels when you’re shopping to help minimize our impact on wildlife and the planet.  

Living more sustainably may not solve the climate crisis overnight, but by taking these small steps we can try to practice breaking old habits and kick-start our journey in becoming a more responsible global citizen. Don’t forget to share this challenge with your friends and let’s start building a much more sustainable community!

References:

Mann, A. (2019, March 1). The waste challenge: Is Indonesia at a tipping point?. TheJakartaPost. Retrieved from https://www.thejakartapost.com/academia/2019/03/01/the-waste-challenge-is-indonesia-at-a-tipping-point-1551431355.html

Spector, N. (2019, October 3). Ideas to make your bathroom more environmentally friendly. NBCNews. Retrieved https://www.nbcnews.com/better/lifestyle/12-practical-ways-make-your-bathroom-eco-friendlier-save-some-ncna1061246#anchor-1Reduceshowertimeandgetalowflowshowerhead