Outbreak results in increased PPE waste at Ponoka dump

AHS says such materials are considered safe for the landfill

Bags of PPE waste seen recently at Ponoka’s Waste Transfer Station. (Image submitted)

Bags of PPE waste seen recently at Ponoka’s Waste Transfer Station. (Image submitted)

COVID-19 has left its mark, impacting people’s livelihoods and lifestyles in numerous ways.

One impact you may not have considered much is the increase of waste due to high volumes of personal protective equipment (PPE) being used, especially during outbreaks.

As gowns, masks, gloves and face shields must be discarded once used due to potential contamination and to prevent transmission, they naturally create more waste.

But how is that waste being taken care of?

If you’ve taken a load of household garbage to the Town of Ponoka’s Waste Transfer Station (located north of town on 46 St.) lately, you may have noticed bags of used gowns and masks.

“In a time when people are suffering already in every way, businesses are investing so much doing their part to protect everyone as they try to control this pandemic, this was concerning on every level to us,” said Ponoka resident Mary Lynn Ellingson.

Ellingson was recently at the dump and shot a video of what she saw, showing piles of bags filled with various PPE waste. She says all the PPE waste should be incinerated.

A COVID-19 outbreak was declared at the Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre on Dec. 9 and Alberta Health Services (AHS) says this has resulted in an increase of PPE waste.

READ MORE: Ponoka Hospital outbreak may be lifted next week

“Like other sites, Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre has had a significant increase in the amount of personal protective equipment (PPE) being used by staff,” said AHS in a prepared statement.

“In turn, this is leading to more waste generated from sites.”

PPE waste is collected by AHS’s Environmental Services staff as part of their general waste collection.

AHS says such materials are considered safe for the landfill as it is not considered to be hazardous or bio-medical waste as PPE is not usually contaminated with blood or bodily fluids when treating COVID-19 positive patients.

If it is contaminated, there is a process in place at the site to dispose of PPE as bio-medical waste.

“AHS works closely with contracted waste providers to make certain that all waste is handled properly, and will continue to work with our vendors to safely and effectively dispose of all waste now, and in the future.”

The Town of Ponoka stated that waste from one private care facility in Ponoka is received at the town’s Waste Transfer Station.

According to the town, the approved waste may consist of items such as diapers, gowns and gloves and is similar to those items disposed of by households.

There is no regulated bio-medical waste received at the transfer station as bio-medical waste is disposed of by licensed operators at approved facilities, says the town.

“We recommend contacting AHS for any further information regarding disposal of bio-medical waste or potential increases in use and disposal of PPE.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CoronavirusPonokawaste disposal

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta identifies 1,516 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday

Central zone has 1,849 active cases

Image/ Metro Creative Connection
County of Wetaskiwin responds to Alberta Energy Regulator’s decision on Directive 067.

On April 7, 2021 the Alberta Energy Regular (AER) announced a new edition of Directive 067.

A damaged unicorn statue is shown in a field outside of Delia, Alta. in this undated handout photo. It’s not often police can report that a unicorn has been found, but it was the truth Saturday when RCMP said a stolen, stainless-steel statue of the mythical beast had been located in a field not far from where he’d been taken. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Mounties get their unicorn; stolen statue of mythical beast found in Alberta field

Police are still looking for suspects, and have called in their forensics experts to help

There were six additional deaths across Alberta reported over the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 1,926 since the beginning of the pandemic. (File photo)
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

A vial of some of the first 500,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada secured. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio
Canada’s 2nd blood clot confirmed in Alberta after AstraZeneca vaccine

The male patient, who is in his 60s, is said to be recovering

The funeral of Britain’s Prince Philip in Windsor, England, on Saturday, April 17, 2021. Philip died April 9 at the age of 99. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)
PHOTOS: Prince Philip laid to rest Saturday as sombre queen sits alone

The entire royal procession and funeral took place out of public view within the grounds of Windsor Castle

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Doses of the Moderna COVID‑19 vaccine in a freezer trailer, to be transported to Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Pfizer to increase vaccine deliveries in Canada as Moderna supply slashed

Moderna plans to ship 650,000 doses of its vaccine to Canada by the end of the month, instead of the expected 1.2 million

Most Read