Pandemic not leading to overflow of medical waste, says waste management company

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By NewsRadio 1120 KMOX

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - Despite the extensive use of personal protective equipment to protect medical personnel and the general public from COVID-19, the amount of medical waste being produced in the U.S. has actually decreased a little. That's according to the head of one of the country's largest waste management companies.

Veolia Environmental Services President/COO Bob Capadona says the increase in COVID-related PPE has been balanced by the reduction in PPE from other procedures and places like dentist offices.

"Just because of the number of procedures and operations that we either completely shut down or curtailed as a result of the pandemic," he says.

And even as more of those procedures are being done, and offices are reopening, he thinks the balance will continue.

"If there is an outbreak of the virus," he says, "those facilities will likely not operate at the levels they previously did. So, it will have the same type of balancing effect." 

Capadona adds that the coronavirus testing techniques that are being utilized don't produce a lot of medical waste.

Recycling centers have also seen a huge increase in PPE being mixed in with recyclables.  This can be a health risk to workers at the recycling plant, and PPE should never be recycled, says sustainability outreach and education coordinator with Brightside St. Louis Elysia Musumeci.

"We’re glad to see people are wearing masks, but we don’t like to see them end up in the recycling bin," says Musumeci.

For a list of what you can and cannot recycle click here.

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