Biomedical Waste

Waste produced in the health care sector can prove highly hazardous, more so in the pandemic era. If not treated, these biomedical wastes can contribute to the rapid spread of coronavirus and other infections.

This article aims to throw light on the effects of biomedical waste on humans and the various treatment methods employed for its safe disposal. The topic is a crucial part of current affairs for UPSC Prelims & Mains and will be helpful in preparation for the UPSC Exam.

Aspirants must keep checking the daily current affairs topics to score well in the competitive exams.

Why is it in News?

  • Growing biomedical waste is a concern amid soaring Covid-19 cases.
  • As per the data of the Covid-19 BWM app, more than 56,000 tons of Covid-19 infected waste was generated from June 2020 to June 2021.
  • There is a growing concern amongst different groups over the safety of frontline health and sanitation workers engaged in collecting biomedical waste from the homes of Covid-19 patients.

In June 2015, the Working Group of the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change released the draft of New Bio-Medical Waste Management Rules 2016. These rules are followed in the country for the segregation of biomedical waste.

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What is Biomedical Waste?

Biomedical waste is any waste containing infectious or potentially infectious materials. These wastes are generated during the diagnosis, treatment, and immunization of humans and animals.

Biomedical wastes can be in both solid and liquid forms. Examples of biomedical wastes include:

  • Waste sharps such as needles, lancets, syringes, scalpels, and broken glass
  • Human tissues or identifiable body parts (as a result of amputation)
  • Animal tissues and waste from veterinary hospitals
  • Used bandage, dressings, gloves, and other medical supplies
  • Liquid waste from infected areas
  • Laboratory wastes

Biomedical wastes are distinct from regular garbage and require particular disposal and treatment.

Types of Biomedical Waste

The World Health Organization (WHO) has categorized biomedical waste into eight categories. They are:

  1. Infectious Waste – Any biomedical waste that is infectious or contaminated.
  2. Sharps – Sharps objects like needles, scalpels, broken glass, and razors.
  3. Pathological Waste – Body parts of humans or animals, including tissues, fluids, or blood.
  4. Pharmaceutical Waste – Unused drugs, medicine, or creams that are expiring.
  5. Genotoxic Waste – Toxic drugs and hazardous toxic waste
  6. Radioactive Waste – Any waste containing potentially radioactive materials
  7. Chemical Waste – Liquid waste from machines, batteries, and disinfectants is chemical.
  8. General/Other Waste – All other non-hazardous waste.
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Further, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPBC) has designated separate colour-coded bins to dispose of biomedical wastes as per their nature.

  1. Yellow Bin: For anatomical waste, chemical waste, soiled waste, chemotherapy waste, discarded linen and medicines, and laboratory waste.
  2. Red Bin: For contaminated plastic wastes
  3. Blue Bin: For glass waste and metallic implants
  4. Black Bin: For hazardous and other waste

The wastes in each of the bins have different treatment and disposal methods.

There are similar topics important from the environment and ecology point of view. Complement your reading about the environment and air with these topics:

Stubble Burning Environment Conventions and Protocols
Air Quality Index System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR)

Effects of Biomedical Waste

Exposure to hazardous biomedical waste can cause disease or injury to human health. HIV, hepatitis B, and C are the three most commonly spread viruses worldwide due to improper treatment of medical wastes. They are transmitted through injuries from contaminated syringes and needles.

Doctors, nurses, and sanitation workers are amongst the most vulnerable to the harmful effects of biomedical waste.

At a time of rapid emergence of new strains of the novel coronavirus, the importance of appropriate treatment of medical wastes cannot be more emphasized. The various technologies that can be used for treatment include:

  • Incineration
  • Chemical Disinfection
  • Wet Thermal Treatment
  • Microwave Irradiation
  • Land Disposal
  • Inertization

Biomedical Waste in the Indian Context

  • The outbreak of COVID-19 has caused an unmanageable growth of biomedical waste.
  • The Central Pollution Control Board (CPBC) has issued guidelines on biomedical waste disposal. As per the guidelines, the biomedical wastes are collected in yellow bags. The bags are then taken to Common Biomedical Waste Treatment Facility (CBWTF) or a waste-to-energy plant. There they are incinerated, autoclaved, or burnt to produce energy.
  • Currently, there are around 200 authorized common biomedical waste treatment and disposal facilities in 28 states of India for the safe disposal of biomedical waste.

Moreover, current affairs play an important part in the syllabus for the civil services examination. Thus, candidates must stay updated with the latest developments in different fields for UPSC exam preparation.

Furthermore, learn about the latest exam updates, study material and preparation tips for competitive exams, by visiting BYJU’S and getting expert assistance.

Other Related Links
Environment And Ecology Notes For UPSC UPSC MCQ On Environment – IAS Prelims
Greenhouse Gases UPSC Prelims Environment and Ecology Previous Year Question Papers
Environment and Ecology Questions from UPSC Mains GS 3 Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981

Frequently Asked Questions on Biomedical Waste


The WHO has classified biomedical waste into how many categories?

The WHO has classified biomedical waste into 8 different categories depending on their nature.


The CPBC has designated a yellow-coloured bin for what kind of wastes?

The yellow-colored bin is designated for anatomical waste, chemical waste, soiled waste, chemotherapy waste, discarded linen and medicines, and laboratory waste.


What is the red bin for?

The red bin is for contaminated plastic waste.


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