Outbreak results in increased PPE waste at Ponoka dump

AHS says such materials are considered safe for the landfill

Bags of PPE waste seen recently at Ponoka’s Waste Transfer Station. (Image submitted)

Bags of PPE waste seen recently at Ponoka’s Waste Transfer Station. (Image submitted)

COVID-19 has left its mark, impacting people’s livelihoods and lifestyles in numerous ways.

One impact you may not have considered much is the increase of waste due to high volumes of personal protective equipment (PPE) being used, especially during outbreaks.

As gowns, masks, gloves and face shields must be discarded once used due to potential contamination and to prevent transmission, they naturally create more waste.

But how is that waste being taken care of?

If you’ve taken a load of household garbage to the Town of Ponoka’s Waste Transfer Station (located north of town on 46 St.) lately, you may have noticed bags of used gowns and masks.

“In a time when people are suffering already in every way, businesses are investing so much doing their part to protect everyone as they try to control this pandemic, this was concerning on every level to us,” said Ponoka resident Mary Lynn Ellingson.

Ellingson was recently at the dump and shot a video of what she saw, showing piles of bags filled with various PPE waste. She says all the PPE waste should be incinerated.

A COVID-19 outbreak was declared at the Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre on Dec. 9 and Alberta Health Services (AHS) says this has resulted in an increase of PPE waste.

READ MORE: Ponoka Hospital outbreak may be lifted next week

“Like other sites, Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre has had a significant increase in the amount of personal protective equipment (PPE) being used by staff,” said AHS in a prepared statement.

“In turn, this is leading to more waste generated from sites.”

PPE waste is collected by AHS’s Environmental Services staff as part of their general waste collection.

AHS says such materials are considered safe for the landfill as it is not considered to be hazardous or bio-medical waste as PPE is not usually contaminated with blood or bodily fluids when treating COVID-19 positive patients.

If it is contaminated, there is a process in place at the site to dispose of PPE as bio-medical waste.

“AHS works closely with contracted waste providers to make certain that all waste is handled properly, and will continue to work with our vendors to safely and effectively dispose of all waste now, and in the future.”

The Town of Ponoka stated that waste from one private care facility in Ponoka is received at the town’s Waste Transfer Station.

According to the town, the approved waste may consist of items such as diapers, gowns and gloves and is similar to those items disposed of by households.

There is no regulated bio-medical waste received at the transfer station as bio-medical waste is disposed of by licensed operators at approved facilities, says the town.

“We recommend contacting AHS for any further information regarding disposal of bio-medical waste or potential increases in use and disposal of PPE.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CoronavirusPonokawaste disposal

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer reports 25th COVID-19 death

415 new cases identified provincially Saturday

Alberta Health reported two new COVID-19 deaths in Red Deer Friday. (Image courtesy CDC)
Two more deaths linked to Olymel outbreak in Red Deer

Province reported 356 additional COVID-19 cases Friday

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a news conference in Edmonton on Feb. 24, 2020. It’s budget day in the province, and Kenney’s United Conservative government is promising more help in the fight against COVID, but more red ink on the bottom line. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta’s budget promises more help for COVID-19 with a hard deficit

Annual spending on debt interest is closing in on $3 billion

Alberta reported an additional 399 cases of COVID-19 Thursday, on 9,217 tests, for a test positivity rate of 4.3 per cent. (Image courtesy CDC)
Red Deer down to 562 active COVID-19 cases

8 new COVID-19 deaths, 399 additional COVID-19 cases

Mike Ammeter (Photo by Rebecca Hadfield)
Sylvan Lake man elected chair of Canadian Canola Growers Association

Mike Ammeter is a local farmer located near the Town of Sylvan Lake

Bookings for COVID-19 vaccines for people age 75 or older start Wednesday. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Updated: Delays for seniors booking for vaccine appointments

By 9:20 a.m. Wednesday, 4,500 seniors had booked their appointments

Vandalism is shown on Alberta NDP MLA Janis Irwin’s constituency office in Edmonton in this handout photo on Saturday, February 27, 2021. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney quickly condemned vandalism at an Opposition legislature member Janis Irwin’s Edmonton office after the MLA posted pictures showing her front window spray-painted with the words “Antifa Liar.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Janis Irwin *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Alberta Premier slams vandalism after slur painted on MLA’s office window

Edmonton MLA Janis Irwin posted pictures showing the front window spray-painted with the words ‘Antifa Liar’

A helicopter flies past a mountain near McBride, B.C., on Saturday January 30, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Avalanche warning for backcountry users in North and South Rockies

Avalanche Canada is urging backcountry users to always check their regional avalanche forecasts

Supporters pray outside court in Stony Plain, Alta., on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, as a trial date was set for Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church. He is charged with holding Sunday services in violation of Alberta’s COVID-19 rules and with breaking conditions of his bail release. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Trial date for jailed Alberta pastor charged with breaking COVID-19 health orders

The court says it will reconvene with lawyers on March 5 for a case management plan by teleconference

A pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
Canada approves use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine

The country joins more than a dozen others in giving the shot the green light

Emily Keeping of Wetaskiwin, Alta., was last seen at 4:20 p.m. on Feb. 25, 2021 at the FasGas on 49 St and 50 Ave in Wetaskiwin. Supplied/ Wetaskiwin RCMP.
UPDATE: Wetaskiwin RCMP seek assistance in locating missing 11-year-old

Emily Keeping was last seen on Feb. 25, 2021 at the FasGas on 49 St and 50 Ave in Wetaskiwin.

Sylvan Lake's Winter Village lured many visitors to the town this winter. The town has launched a new contest to attract a new business.
(Black Press file photo)
Sylvan Lake offering rent-free storefront space to lure new businesses

Winning business proposal will get a storefront space rent-free for a year

Alberta premier Jason Kenney, right and Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General, provide details about Bill 13, the Alberta Senate Election Act., in Edmonton Alta, on Wednesday June 26, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Minister Doug Schweitzer talks on Enhanced COVID-19 Business Benefit

Provincial government rolling out new benefit this April to better help small businesses.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP will not trigger election as long as pandemic continues: Singh

‘“We will vote to keep the government going’

Most Read