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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 129-132

Biomedical waste and solid waste management draft rules, 2015: A comment

Department of Community Medicine, North DMC Medical College and Hindu Rao Hospital, New Delhi, India

Date of Web Publication14-Apr-2016

Correspondence Address:
Sandeep Sachdeva
Department of Community Medicine, North DMC Medical College and Hindu Rao Hospital, New Delhi - 110 007
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2278-344X.180424

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Waste management is increasingly being given focus and attention throughout the globe in view of its diverse and adverse consequence to human and environmental health. Recently government has released draft biomedical waste and solid waste management rules, 2015 and invited comments from stakeholders. This brief provides update on bio medical waste, solid waste management especially community disposal of sanitary waste and highlights some of the concerns.

Keywords: Color coded bags, disposal, human, incinerator, legislation, program, segregation, sharp

How to cite this article:
Sachdeva S. Biomedical waste and solid waste management draft rules, 2015: A comment. Int J Health Allied Sci 2016;5:129-32

How to cite this URL:
Sachdeva S. Biomedical waste and solid waste management draft rules, 2015: A comment. Int J Health Allied Sci [serial online] 2016 [cited 2023 Dec 10];5:129-32. Available from: https://www.ijhas.in/text.asp?2016/5/2/129/180424

  Bio Medical Waste Management Top

Biomedical waste (BMW) means any waste that is generated during the diagnosis, treatment, or immunization of human beings or animals or in research activities pertaining thereto or in the production or testing of biological. From management perspective, activities involved in BMW management include (1) waste generation, (2) segregation, (3) collection, (4) reception, (5) transportation, (6) storage, (7) treatment, and (8) final disposal including any other form of handling. It is estimated that 85% of hospital wastes are actually nonhazardous (general waste) while remaining 15% are infectious, hazardous, or toxic waste.[1] If we can manage this 15% waste effectively, our 85% of the basic and consequential problems will be solved. However, this has not been achieved even today. High-income countries on an average generate 0.5 kg while low-income countries generate 0.2 kg of hazardous waste per hospital bed per day.[2]

The “waste management hierarchy” is largely based on the principle of “3Rs,” namely, reduce, reuse, and recycle. However, broader concept of waste management includes most preferred practice of preventing waste generation > reduce > reuse > recycle > recover > treat > to least preferred but essential practice of dispose. Mismanagement of BMW generated in health care and allied facilities is a global concern with far reaching consequence on human health, animal, flora, fauna, and environmental issues. In spite of regulatory framework in many countries, the ground realities remain grim across the world.

India has taken many steps over the past few decades to address issues related to healthcare waste; however, it is estimated that only just over 50% of the country's 84,809 hospitals and healthcare facilities in India properly treat and segregate infected waste from noninfected waste.[3] Another recent study conducted in 25 districts of 20 states on situational analysis of BMW management reflects poor practices/mismanagement in 82% of primary, 60% of secondary, and 54% of tertiary care health facilities.[4] It was not uncommon until few years back to notice burning of plastic BMW in an uncontrolled manner even in metropolitan city like Delhi,[5] what to talk of other cities or rural areas. We may have definitively evolved overtime yet the existing challenges of diverse and variable awareness, casual attitude of staff-members, governance issue, poor accountability, media attention, social pressure, advancement of safe technologies, legislation, logistics, research, and funding have had many positive impacts in country but critical gaps are evidently visible.

For the 1st time in the country, the Government of India notified BMW (management and handling) rules 1998 under environment protection act of 1986 to provide a framework for management of BMW generated in the country in line with global call. The said rules were framed in the erstwhile Ministry of Environment and Forest that were amended from time to time. The last amendment took place in 2011 but could not be finalized due to nonconsensus on categorization of BMW and emission standards for incinerator. A set of new draft rules BMW (management and handling) rules 2015 has been released in public domain by Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change [Schedule I].[6]

The new BMW draft rules 2015 notification details about:

  • Title of notification, scope; definitions; duties of occupier and operator of common biomedical treatment facilities, prescribed authorities, composition of advisory committee, institutional waste management committee; treatment and disposal options; guidelines and procedure for authorization for generation, collection, transportation, storage, treating and disposal; accident reporting; site for common BMW management facility; liability of occupier or operator of facility; maintenance of records and reports; and monitoring and grievance mechanism. In continuation of previous notifications, there is mention of awareness generation activities, training, immunization and use of personal protective equipment and consultative/directive roles of various stakeholders; quantum of waste generated, treated, transported, disposed off, recycled, etc.
  • The rules also prescribe biohazard/cytotoxic hazard labeling symbol, standards for treatment and disposal of BMW, i.e., operating, emission, autoclaving, microwaving, liquid waste, and deep burial
  • Annexure provides list of form/applications.

Author's perspective

  • In the 1998 notification, there were ten categories of BMW including typographical error which were reduced to eight in the 2011 amendment. In this notification, there is no mention of separate but reclassified categories of BMW according to Arabic number
  • Many new entities were introduced in the last amendment and had been retained in the present notification. As in previous notification, the rules shall not apply to radioactive waste covered under the manufacture, storage and import of hazardous chemical rules 1989; the municipal waste covered under the municipal solid waste (management and handling) rules 2000; the lead acid batteries waste covered under the batteries (management and handling) rules 2001; the hazardous waste covered the hazardous waste (management, handling and transboundary movement) rules 2008; waste covered under the E-waste (management and handling) rules 2011 and the hazardous microorganisms, genetically engineered micro-organism and cells covered under the manufacture, use, import, export and storage of hazardous micro-organism, genetically engineered microorganisms or cell rules 1989
  • Every occupier or operator involved in BMW irrespective of “quantum” of waste shall seek grant of authorization in a prescribed application
  • Every occupier shall either set up his own requisite BMW treatment equipment such as autoclave, microwave, or shredder in his premises as a part of on-site treatment or ensure requisite treatment through an authorized common BMW treatment facility
  • There is no over-lapping or confusion with regard to color coding bags and segregation of waste which existed in previous rules. Some new points and/or deviation from current practices may be a cause of concern.

  Solid Waste Management Draft Rules, 2015 Top

  • Sanitary waste means waste comprising of used infant and adult diapers, sanitary towels, napkins/pads, tampons, condoms, incontinence sheets, menstrual cups, or any other similar waste generated. The Government of India has issued guidelines for community disposal of “sanitary waste” under solid waste management rules 2015 under environment protection act 1986 and in supersession of municipal solid waste (management and handling) rules 2000[7]
  • The sanitary waste is to be wrapped securely as and when generated in a newspaper or suitable biodegradable wrapping material and to be placed in the domestic bin meant for nonbiodegradable waste or dry waste. It is to be then transported to respective processing facility or material recovery facilities or secondary storage facility or sanitary land fill facility along with other nonbiodegradable (dry) waste
  • A survey conducted in 2011 among 1000 women sample showed that at 12%, India has one of the lowest sanitary napkin usage figures in the world. Rest 88% of women use un-sanitized cloth, ashes, and husk sand. There are though reservations amongst certain section of researchers with regard to small sample size to throw light on sanitary napkin usage amongst women in India. The figure is 100% in Japan and Singapore, 96% in the USA, 88% in Indonesia, and 64% in China. Estimating that 300 million women in India are of 15–54 years of age, a sanitary napkin usage of 12% implies that 36 million women use sanitary napkins every month. At an average usage of 12 napkins per woman per month, this would add up to 432 million soiled pads, weighing a staggering 9000 mega tonnes, enough to cover a landfill spread over 24 hectares. The sheer number of ladies soiled sanitary napkins discarded with general household waste every day adds to the burden of the environment. More than 90% of a sanitary napkin is made of crude oil plastic; the rest is made of chlorine-bleached wood or cotton pulp. Soiled napkins are considered part of nonrecyclable household waste and are to be incinerated as an interim solution. The informal practice of burning soiled napkins in the open releases toxic gases like dioxins and furans. However, most napkins end up in landfills. Significant percent of women flush used napkins in toilets which often choke and block sewage lines. None of the methods are a safe or sustainable way to dispose soiled napkins.[8],[9] As a contradiction, foreign organizations are promoting sanitary napkin in India as they see it as a big business while trying to discourage traditional environmental friendly methods.[10] The debate between personal choice, comfort, hygiene, cost, sustainability, disposal method, and environment protection continues
  • Recently, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research has developed biodegradable sanitary napkin which is being made available to industry for mass production.[11] The Government of India is providing subsidized sanitary pads to adolescent girls in the country since 2011, and this technology transfer may give a timely boost to reach all adolescent girls for ensuring universal safe personal/menstrual hygiene with collateral protection to environment
  • Ministry has invited comments and suggestions from experts, nongovernmental organization, public, and lay persons on both draft rules and would also provide a larger platform for discussion and debate to accommodate any additional concerns and issues.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

World Health Organization. Safe Management of Health Care Waste. 2nd ed. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2014.  Back to cited text no. 1
Waste from Health Care Activities. Fact Sheet No. 253; November, 2011. Available from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs253/en/. [Last accessed on 2015 Aug 06].  Back to cited text no. 2
Health Without Harm: Reducing Risk from Healthcare Waste Management in India; 2013. Available from: http://www.gefmedwaste.org/article.php?id=288. [Last accessed on 2015 Jul 02].  Back to cited text no. 3
INCLEN Program Evaluation Network (IPEN) Study Group, New Delhi, India. Bio-medical waste management: Situational analysis & predictors of performances in 25 districts across 20 Indian States. Indian J Med Res 2014;139:141-53.  Back to cited text no. 4
Sachdeva S, Datta U. Sharp disposal practices in urban dispensaries. Indian J Community Med 2010;35:365-6.  Back to cited text no. 5
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
Bio Medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules 2015. Ministry of Environment, Forest, Climate Change. New Delhi: Government of India; 2015. Available from: http://www.moef.nic.in/sites/default/files/Bio%20Medical%20Waste.pdf. [Last accessed on 2015 Jun 30].  Back to cited text no. 6
Solid Waste Management Rules 2015. Ministry of Environment, Forest, Climate Change. New Delhi: Government of India; 2015. Available from: http://www.moef.nic.in/sites/default/files/Solid%20Waste%20Management%20rule.pdf. [Last accessed on 2015 Jun 30].  Back to cited text no. 7
Basu S. Kicking Up a Stink. Available from: http://www.downtoearth.org.in/coverage/kicking-up-a-stink-41036. [Last accessed on 2015 Sep 24].  Back to cited text no. 8
Sahoo P. Ladies be Careful When You Throw Away the Sanitary Napkin; 10 July, 2015. Available from: http://www.hindustantimes.com/health-and-fitness/ladies-be-careful- when-you-throw-away-the-sanitary-napkin/story-YnbqET6IzriWOy1 Y8rFS8N.html. [Last accessed on 2015 Oct 03].  Back to cited text no. 9
Joseph S. Why India Doesn't Need the Sanitary Napkin Revolution; 19 July, 2015. Available from: http://www.swarajyamag.com/culture/why-india-doesnt-need-the-sanitary-napkin-revolution/. [Last accessed on 2015 Oct 06].  Back to cited text no. 10
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Comes with Low Cost Bio-Degradable Sanitary Pads; 2015. Available from: http://www.wcd.nic.in/BBBPScheme/CSIR%20comes%20up%20with%20low-cost%20biodegradable%20sanitary%20pads%20_Millennium%20Post.pdf. [Last accessed on 2015 Sep 30].  Back to cited text no. 11

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