COVID-19 is the name, attributed by the World Health Organization (WHO), to the disease caused by the new coronavirus SARS-COV-2, which can cause severe respiratory infection such as pneumonia.
To fight and mitigate the spread of this virus, guidelines and recommendations were published by the Portuguese General-Directorate of Health (DGS) and by the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA), together with the Regulatory Entity for Water and Waste Services (ERSAR), about the adequate measures to be taken with waste in times of pandemic.
EGF has simplified the message and is disseminating the rules and guidelines, with straight forward press releases and illustrated content, to better transmit the information to the population.
To fulfill this mission, educational posters and leaflets were produced, answers to frequently asked questions were defined through a list of FAQ's, and awareness was raised to the population through a digital campaign. This campaign calls on the population to stay at home to avoid contagion and, in this way, to respect employees who deal with the management of our daily waste, both in terms of collection and treatment, in various infrastructures throughout the country.
The information is available on the websites and social networks of EGF concessionaires through the hashtag #PREVENIRCOVID19 and is also available for download in this space, dedicated to COVID-19 and its prevention, which must be done through the correct management of urban waste.
Yes, if you do not have any symptoms of COVID-19 and you are not quarantined. Even in isolation, you can continue to recycle. Considering that there has been an improvement in the epidemiological situation in our country, it is considered that there are conditions for the return to normality that allows selectively collected recyclable waste to be treated.
However, whenever necessary, management entities will consult the corresponding local health authorities about the need to maintain a storage period prior to the processing of recyclable waste, as before.
No. The waste must be deposited in the common waste container (undifferentiated waste).
You can find them on our website HERE. If you do not live in the area of an EGF concessionaire, you should visit the website of the company that provides the selective collection service in your area of residence. This information can also be consulted at ERSAR's website.
In case of a suspected or confirmed case(s) of COVID-19's infected person undergoing treatment at home, all waste produced by the patient(s), and by whom is providing assistance, should be placed in a resistant disposable garbage bag, which should not be completely full - up to 2/3 (two thirds) of its capacity; the bag must then be tightly closed and placed in a second bag, also properly closed.
Suspected or infected people must have their own waste container at home to place the bag, which must have a lid and must be operated by pedal. All waste must then be disposed of in the regular container for undifferentiated waste. This operation should preferably be done with gloves (or with protected hands), to avoid contamination, and the residues should never be pressed on, nor should the bag be squeezed to let out the air.
To better illustrate this procedure watch this VIDEO.
Infected people who live alone have to follow the same bag rules as anyone infected with COVID19. When taking out the trash, if they have no family support, or neighbors to help, they can call their parish council or the SNS 24 (808 24 24 24) to find out how to proceed.
Yes, undifferentiated waste disposal containers must be made available to workers, with a lid, if possible with a pedal-operated opening and lined with a resistant plastic bag, where all personal protective equipment waste such as masks, gloves and visors used by clients/workers who are not infected and without infection suspicion must be placed. Easy-to-read information should also be made available on the correct location for depositing the equipment.
Containers must be sanitized daily according to the cleaning and disinfection procedures defined by the General Directorate of Health for surfaces, and, if there is no pedal, they must be sanitized several times a day.
If they are disposable masks and gloves, no. Even if you wash your disposable gloves with alcohol, they are not guaranteed to be completely cleaned, the best thing to do is to discard the used materials. If filtering masks or reusable gloves are used (see question 10), and they are in good condition, you can reuse them.
Masks, disposable gloves and tissues should always be disposed of in regular trash. Filtering masks are reusable (see question 10) and can be disinfected, as well as reusable gloves.
Not totally. There are two very different types of protective masks that are being used in this pandemic context: disposable surgical masks and disposable respiratory protection filter masks.
Both have a protective function, but in a different way:
SURGICAL MASK: It allows that, in case we are contaminated, even without knowing it, when we cough, sneeze or speak (projecting the known “perdigote”), all the contaminated droplets that we expel are retained inside the mask that works as a barrier and therefore, we prevent our own contamination from reaching others who are close to us. By using them, we are therefore protecting everyone else around us. That is why patients (who are contaminated) have to use them, to avoid infecting other people. However, these masks do not filter the contaminated air that we inhale, either because their constitution does not allow adequate filtration, or because they do not seal our face and, therefore, when we inhale, the possibly contaminated air around us continues to enter lateral, upper (near the nose) and lower (near the chin) openings. It is important to realize that when we see, in Asian countries many people using them, this means, in part, that they already have a sense of protection and a respect for the other that has evolved a lot in this regard. Even outside the context of the pandemic, people sick with a normal flu, for example, already avoid contaminating others with the use of this mask in public places.
FILTERING MASK: The individual protection function of our airways is ensured by the use of filter masks (eg FFP2), used in industry, for example, to protect ourselves from dust and aerosols and so-called biological agents (fungi, bacteria and viruses like the coronavirus) that circulate in the air clinging to particles or droplets ranging from relatively large sizes, which we can see, to microscopic sizes that, although we cannot see them, are there. The entire filter mask is a filter. This material consists of a network of numerous overlapping and interwoven microfibers that prevent the passage of particles (visible and invisible) and microorganisms from the surrounding air into the mask. It is important to note, however, that if the mask is not fully adjusted to the face (its use with a beard, for example, is not advisable) or is not well placed (without adjustment around the nose or decentralized), it will not be able to seal completely and therefore, it will always allow contaminated air to enter through the small openings between the mask and the face.
However, masks and gloves should be used as a means of protection, together with washing hands with an alcohol solution after handling any contaminated waste.
Only filtering masks and reusable gloves can be disinfected. Disposable items must always be disposed of in regular trash after its use (until damp/circa 4h-6h of continuous usage).
Reusable fabric gloves, which must be washed in the washing machine immediately after being used, should be washed at elevated temperatures between 60º and 90ºC degrees and, if possible, ironed at 100ºC. If the gloves are made of rubber, they should be washed with water and bleach or disinfected with a 70% alcohol solution.
Reusable fabric masks must follow the packaging procedures for how often they can go to the washing machine.
Yes. There is an increase in the frequency of containers and collection vehicles cleanse, outside and inside, with the use of a disinfectant composed of sodium hypochlorite solution. Special attention is being paid to places of contact with users, such as handles and lids.
All containers must be cleaned and disinfected with water and bleach; preferably, gloves should be used when cleaning the bins, afterwards hands should be washed with soap and water or disinfected with alcohol gel.
No. The waste containers' lid must ALWAYS be closed.
Protect your hands when depositing your garbage bag in the container, close the lid and at the end wash your hands with soap and water as recommended.
Please note that the waste that is deposited in the container may be contaminated with COVID19. When we leave a container with the lid open, animals are attracted, which will spread the waste, thus contaminating the public road; also the wind can take waste out of the container. It is, therefore, extremely important that you close the lid.
The Waste Management Systems have public attendance services in operation, for clarifying the population and recording situations that may jeopardize public health. There are, however, contingency plans in each concessionaire that define access to facilities, schedules and other operating rules.
The contacts of EGF's concessionaires can be consulted: HERE.
Door-to-door collection in commerce and institutions has been suspended in some regions, but in the regions where it is maintained, the respective security measures are complied with. In the second situation, in which door-to-door collection services are maintained, recyclable waste, properly bagged, must be placed outside commercial establishments/institutions or houses in the expected collection days.
This service is not a priority in a pandemic phase. In this sense, the population is urged not to place this type of waste for collection while the pandemic continues. In special cases, or for some exceptional reason, they should contact the services that usually already provided this collection. But again, the waste collection services have priority indications that do not include the collection of bulky waste (mattresses, appliances, etc.).
This service is not a priority in a pandemic phase - in this phase, the installation of new containers depends only on the specific needs detected.
This service is not a priority in a pandemic phase - the displacement of ecopoints depends only on the specific needs detected.
Minimum essential services to guarantee the basic needs of the population will be considered, namely:
The selective collection of recyclables continues to be ensured by the responsible entities, with the exception of areas that have had specific recommendations for not doing so.
If there is a rate of absenteeism on the part of workers involved in the collection of urban waste, which does not allow the adequate and selective collection of all fractions of urban waste, the joint collection of the undifferentiated fraction and the selectively deposited is foreseen, guaranteeing whenever the frequency of collection of undifferentiated waste is not affected.
The Urban Waste Management Systems resumed the operation of the mechanical treatment facilities, provided that all workers' safety conditions are ensured.
This measure aims to reduce the deposition of waste in landfills, guarantee the feeding of the biological phase, making the stages of composting and anaerobic digestion increasingly operational, and, at the same time, ensuring the recovery of existing recyclables in undifferentiated waste.
Municipalities, Urban Waste Management Systems, and other entities involved in the collection of urban waste, are coordinated in each region and provide in their contingency plan:
The entities responsible for waste collection have teams for cleaning and removing waste, if deposition outside the containers is identified.
Workers involved in waste collection and waste treatment operations must strictly comply with the measures already defined in this matter, namely in terms of hygiene and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). The need to sanitize the PPE is reinforced. In this context, all the recommended measures and any additional measures that may be determined by the Portuguese Directorate-General for Health apply.
The management of waste collection teams is being programmed, whenever possible, in order to avoid crowding them in collective spaces (shifts lag).
Waste management operators foresee in their contingency plans the need to ensure minimum services, taking into account, among other factors, the possibility of a high rate of absenteeism from their own workers.
Hospital waste treatment operators must be prepared for the need to increase the frequency of waste collection in hospital-type health facilities. In this situation, the collection of waste in these health units should be prioritized over clinics and other smaller waste producers, also, the maximum time limits for packaging waste at the production site determined by Dispatch No. 242/96 from the Office of the Portuguese Minister of Health may be exceeded.
Hospital waste collected should be sent directly to autoclaving or incineration treatment facilities, without temporary storage in other establishments.
No. It is always necessary to wash your hands with an alcohol gel solution/hand sanitizer, or with soap and water (for 20 seconds!), after handling waste.
Yes, the indications issued by the European Union support the guidelines already given by the Portuguese General Directorate of Health (DGS1/DGS2) and by the Portuguese Environment Agency, together with the Regulatory Entity for Water and Waste Services (APA e ERSAR1/APA e ERSAR2), for the separation of waste of a patient infected with COVID-19 from the rest of his family nucleus and point to the reinforcement of safety equipment for waste management workers. These indications also highlight that it is important that citizens maintain their ecological habits, continuing to separate their waste for recycling.
The EU document can be consulted HERE.
The Minister of the Environment and Climate Action, João Pedro Matos Fernandes, calls on families to take advantage of this time at home to train and perfect good practices for waste separation and to proceed with the correct disposal of gloves, masks and tissues in the common garbage container. The information is reinforced by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Inês Costa, who invokes the importance of reducing domestic waste, to avoid overloading the collection system, she also advises that the collection times and the capacity of the containers must be respected.
In view of the possibility of a significant increase in cases by COVID19, waste management operators will carry out a critical assessment of the procedures adopted during this phase of the pandemic, reviewing and updating their contingency plans in sequence, so that they can be prepared to activate them in the autumn/winter period ahead.