Waste services can keep operating
Some aspects of the waste and recycling industry are essential services. Their facilities remain open.
Councils and the waste and recycling industry should continue to provide critical waste services to the public.
Keeping these facilities open will help to reduce the potential for illegal dumping of waste. Illegal dumping can cost millions of dollars to clean up.
The risk of coronavirus transmission when handling waste is low. Waste handlers should continue using routine hygiene procedures. For example, wearing gloves and washing hands regularly.
The current situation has seen Victorians spending more time at home. You may have decided to have a spring clean or get started on that bathroom renovation. Keep in mind you’re responsible for the disposal of all the waste you produce.
Things like food scraps, demolition materials, hard rubbish and e-waste all have different requirements for correct disposal.
Councils and the waste and recycling industry continue to provide waste services to the public. Like any business, some disruptions may occur from time-to-time due to physical distancing requirements, but they’re not restricted activities and remain operating. So your regular kerbside bin collections, such as recycling, household and garden waste continue as usual.
Hard rubbish collections are also available from your local council. Private waste collections, such as skip bin hire, are operating for waste such as construction and demolition materials.
For people working in the waste industry, the risk of transmission of coronavirus when handling waste is low. Waste handlers should continue using routine hygiene procedures such as wearing gloves and washing hands regularly for at least 20 seconds with soap.
Keeping waste services operating helps reduce the potential for illegal dumping that costs millions of dollars to clean up.
For more information on waste services contact your local council or visit our website epa.vic.gov.au
How industry should manage coronavirus contaminated clinical waste
How to safely dispose of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and cleaning clothes
Disposing of single-use personal protective equipment (PPE) items such as face masks, gloves and aprons will depend on where you have used them. The Coronavirus (COVID-19): Disposing PPE at home and in the workplace (publication 1898) fact sheet tells you how to dispose of your PPE waste at home and in the workplace.
Waste generated from the home can be placed in the general household waste bin. This includes:
- Single-use PPE worn during regular daily activities;
- PPE and tissues for households with a suspected or diagnosed COVID-19 case (which must be put in a sealed plastic or paper bag, and then in your general waste bin); and
- Waste from home healthcare patients (this does not include sharps waste, pharmaceutical wastes, cytotoxic wastes etc which must be disposed of as clinical waste).
PPE wastes must not be placed in the recycling or greenwaste bin.
The Coronavirus (COVID-19): Disposing clinical waste (publication 1901) fact sheet explains how to manage clinical waste from coronavirus (COVID-19), and arrange for collections in various workplace settings.
Posters about clinical waste are available to download:
- What is clinical waste? Advice for a non-clinical setting (poster) (publication 1904)
- How to dispose of clinical waste: advice for a non-clinical setting (poster) (publication 1905)
For information on how to manage clinical waste in hospitals and other clinical settings please go to the DHHS website.
Requirements to store clinical waste in preparation for pick-up
Wastes should be stored in a dedicated storage area to ensure there are no environmental impacts, including appropriate bunding to contain any potential spills. It is essential that clinical and related wastes are properly segregated, packaged, labelled, handled and transported to minimise risk to waste handlers and the community.
Wastes should be stored in a container that is:
- and preferably with a closeable lid.
If the container does not have a lid, it should be stored in an appropriately bunded area that is undercover.
Place clinical waste directly into a ridged clinical waste bin or in a double-layered yellow plastic bag (double-bagging), and clearly label it as clinical waste.
Wastes should not be stored in plastic liners that have been placed directly on floors. To assist waste transporters and treaters with the increased demand for clinical wastes, please ensure clinical waste bins are full before requesting collection. EPA provides guidance on management of clinical wastes in Clinical and related waste – operational guidance (IWRG612.1).
Transporting clinical waste
Clinical waste is classified as a prescribed industrial waste (PIW) and can be dangerous to people and the environment.
You must control PIW to prevent harm, especially when you transport it for disposal or treatment.
The laws and regulations that set out your obligations when transporting PIW are:
- Environment Protection Act 1970
- Environment Protection (Industrial Waste Resource) Regulations 2009.
If you produce, transport or receive prescribed industrial waste, you must complete a waste transport certificate.
For information on how to prepare clinical waste for collection please refer to the Coronavirus (COVID-19): Disposing clinical waste (publication 1901) fact sheet.
Facilities licenced to accept clinical waste
Clinical wastes are a prescribed industrial waste under the EPA Regulations. They must be transported by a permitted vehicle, and disposed of at a premises licensed to accept it. You can search for a prescribed industrial waste treater and transporter by using the EPA prescribed industrial waste database.
Requirements to temporarily store clinical waste
EPA may authorise emergency storage of waste at a premises for up to 120 days under Section 30A of the Act. You may apply to EPA for a Section 30A Approval Application in accordance with EPA publication 1590.
Premises are required to store waste in accordance with the Clinical and related waste – operational guidance (IWRG612.1). Temporary storage areas should be:
- Hygienically managed, adequately lit and have restricted access.
- Signposted with the biohazard symbol and other labelling appropriate to the types of waste stored in the area (e.g. clinical).
- Weather-proof (i.e. with walls and a roof) and with adequate containment measures (e.g. container bund and/or sump) to contain any spills. This should also prevent any waste entering stormwater or drainage systems.
- Where cold storage units are hired from contractors, it is recommended that contractors of cold storage units are advised on what substances have been stored within the units, how and if they have been adequately cleaned.
- All received waste on site is managed on a strict rotation basis (first in, first out), so waste received at the site first is first removed and wastes of different storage age are managed appropriately.
- Information on those that attend the site or handle the waste containers is kept on record.
Certain wastes require additional management controls. For example, R110 waste should be refrigerated below room temperature if it is unable to be treated or disposed of within 24hrs. For further information on waste codes please refer to the Waste Code Guidance (IWRG822.3).
Coronavirus (COVID-19): Disposing PPE at home and in the workplace (publication 1898)
Coronavirus (COVID-19): Disposing clinical waste (publication 1901)
What is clinical waste? Advice for a non-clinical setting (poster) (publication 1904)
How to dispose of clinical waste: advice for a non-clinical setting (poster) (publication 1905)
Reviewed 21 October 2020