COVID contaminated waste management concerns

Shadow Environment Minister Tjorn Sibma has raised concerns about the growing COVID waste stream in Western Australia which is being unmanaged by the McGowan Government.
“Despite two years of mask mandates, there is abundant evidence that the McGowan Government has dropped the ball on managing the sheer volume of discarded single-use face masks which now litter our waterways, parks, and other sensitive environmental areas across the state.
“There needs to be much clearer public guidance about the correct way to dispose of the face masks in a manner which is environmentally sensitive and manages the public health risk. Some people mistakenly believe that used masks can be placed in the recycling bin.
“It may well be that incineration is a superior option to permitting the growing volume of single use masks contaminating the recycling stream, being dumped in landfill, or worse,” said Mr Sibma.
Mr Sibma also expressed concerns about the lack of guidance and available waste management infrastructure for dealing with used Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs).
“I expected that once the Government belatedly decided to legalise RATs in Western Australia, and then encouraged their use, and later gave them away free to households, that they would also have a plan for how they should be responsibly disposed,” said Mr Sibma.
There is no plan.
It was revealed earlier in the week that the Environment Minister has asked his department to investigate the disposal of contaminated COVID material in the waste stream.
“My hopes that the McGowan Government would have actually used the last two years to manage these issues, have once again been dashed, they seem completely unprepared to deal with practical and predictable matters.
“They are continually playing catch up, and need to get their act together quickly before the problem grows too large to manage in the weeks and months ahead,” said Mr Sibma.
Mr Sibma once again said he felt some sympathy for the new Environment Minister, the third Labor Minister to hold the portfolio in the last twelve months, who is coming to grips with the inaction of his immediate predecessor.