No plans to review laws on disposal of used face masks and PPE

KUALA LUMPUR: There are no plans to review laws on the disposal of used non-clinical Covid-19 face masks and protective personal equipment (PPE), says Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man.

The Environment and Water Minister said only face masks and PPE categorised as clinical waste were deemed as scheduled waste, which must be disposed of at sites approved by the ministry.

"Plastic and face mask used by the public at premises such as wet markets, supermarkets, offices and factories for the protection against infections are categorised as domestic waste and not clinical waste.

"These waste can be disposed of as domestic waste at sites managed under the local councils or the Housing and Local Government Ministry," he said when answering a question raised by Datuk Ahmad Jazlan Yaakub (BN-Machang) during Question Time in Dewan Rakyat on Tuesday (Nov 3).

Ahmad Jazlan wanted to know if special disposal sites would be set up in all states for the disposal of face masks, plastic gloves and PPEs in light of the increased of the items due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tuan Ibrahim acknowledged that there has been a 20% increase in the use of PPEs since the Covid-19 outbreak in March.

He, however, explained that there was no need to review the law on disposal of non-clinical PPE, as it could lead to a rise in cost and confusion among the public.

"There are two types of PPEs, namely for clinical and non-clinical use.

"There is no need to categorise non-clinical PPEs such as those used in salons as clinical waste as this would result in additional cost and confusion among the public," he said.

Tuan Ibrahim said the definition of clinical waste includes items that contain human or animal tissue, blood, body fluids, excretions, drugs, pharmaceutical products, soiled swabs or dressings, syringes and needles that could pose a danger to human if coming into contact with.

He added that clinical waste from hospitals and designated Covid-19 centres were disposed of according to the regulations under the Environment Quality Act 1974 and the Environment Quality (Scheduled Wastes) Regulation 2005.

He noted that those who breached the regulations could face a maximum fine of RM500,000, or five years jail or both upon conviction.

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