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

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta reports 2,271 new COVID-19 cases, Red Deer cases rise slightly

Across Alberta, there are 666 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 146 in the ICU

Alberta Health Services locked the Whistle Stop Cafe at Mirror on Wednesday morning after owner Christopher Scott refused to comply with health orders.
Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff
AHS shuts down Whistle Stop Cafe for defying health orders

Health inspectors and RCMP locked doors early Wednesday

Premier Jason Kenney (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Chedda’ Heads Grilled Cheese Truck owner Dawson Strome and truck manager Allison Dolan look out from the service window on the truck. (File Photo)
Sylvan Lake’s Food Truck Thursdays expected to return with some changes

The Town is amending the Mobile Vending and Busking Bylaw which has a few changes for the event

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is seen at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. An Alberta woman in her 50s has died from a rare blood clot disorder after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Alberta confirms blood clot disorder death linked to AstraZeneca vaccine

Both AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have been linked to VITT in a very small number of cases

FILE - In this March 3, 2021, file photo, a vial of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is displayed at South Shore University Hospital in Bay Shore, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine can be given to adults 30+ who can’t wait for mRNA: NACI

Panel says single shot vaccine can be especially useful for populations unable to return for second shot

A wild rabbit grazes in Nanaimo, B.C. in this Feb.2, 2018 photo. Rabbit owners in Alberta are being warned about a deadly virus that was identified in a southern Alberta household last month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dirk Meissner
‘Like a flash fire:’ Rabbit owners warned about outbreak of deadly disease in Alberta

The disease is confined to rabbits and cannot spread to humans

A lady wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada may find it challenging to reach herd immunity from COVID-19, experts say

Level of immunity among the population changes with the variants, especially the more transmissible strains

B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Dip in COVID-19 cases with 572 newly announced in B.C.

No new deaths have been reported but hospitalized patients are up to 481, with 161 being treated in intensive care

A dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination is prepared at a mobile clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, in Montreal, Friday, April 30, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine approved for kids 12 to 15 years old in Canada

The vaccine was previously authorized for anyone at least 16 years of age or older

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to speakers appearing by video during a news conference in Ottawa on Tuesday May 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada will align policy on ‘vaccine passports’ with international allies: Trudeau

Trudeau says Canadians could begin travelling outside the country again by summer

Ranging from 11 to 20 in age and representing seven provinces and one territory, the plaintiffs are appealing a Supreme Court judge’s decision to dismiss their lawsuit last fall. (David Suzuki Foundation)
15 youths not backing down in their fight to sue Ottawa over climate change inaction

The group has filed an appeal after their lawsuit was struck down by a Federal Court judge last fall

A 2021 census questionnaire. (Black Press Media file photo)
2021 census responses due May 11

By law, every household must complete a census questionnaire

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi attends a senior’s home in Calgary on Tuesday, April 14, 2020, amid a worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Nenshi says he’s frustrated to hear that tickets given to people for breaching COVID-19 public health orders are being thrown out in the courts.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘Incredibly frustrating:’ Calgary mayor wants courts to uphold COVID-19 measures

Large groups without masks have been gathering in Calgary public spaces in protest of health measures

Most Read