The Waste Management Dilemma towards Indonesia’s ‘The New Normal’

Publish at 2020-07-17

The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic required Indonesia to enact social/physical distancing as of March 2020. This policy affected many sectors from commercial to education.

After more than 3 months the Indonesian people are urged to maintain distance and protect their health, as the government began to launch a phase of ‘The New Normal’ which was planned to be gradually tested and applied to worship centres, schools, businesses, and shopping centres in June 2020.

The launching of The New Normal invites debate due to the imbalance between data in the field and government policies. Society is divided into pros and cons, and a lot of speculation arose, but in the end, everything is up to the individuals to protect themselves and their families so that they could survive physically and mentally.

Some ways to maintain physical and mental health are exercising, eating nutritious foods, maintaining cleanliness, keeping a distance, and ensuring that waste is managed responsibly so as not to become a medium for spreading disease.

The Dilemma of Medical Waste and Infectious Waste in the Middle of the Pandemic

Bacteria can only live and reproduce in organic matter, including organic waste, but viruses, including the coronavirus COVID-19, can survive on the surface of organic and inorganic waste for a certain period.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, medical waste has become a concern. Production of medical/infectious waste such as tissue, cotton, used bandages, used hazmat clothing, used sheets, and medical masks have increased dramatically.


Personal safety equipment in the medical world is generally not to be used repeatedly to keep the environment sterile. Medical/infectious waste which is contaminated with body fluids (mucus or blood) originating from COVID-19 patients or carriers of the COVID-19 virus is clearly feared to spread the disease if not treated wisely. (Read: How to Handle Medical Masks Waste Responsibly)

In order not to pollute the environment and prevent the spread of disease, medical/infectious waste in Wuhan, China ended up being incinerated/burned with a special garbage burning machine or piled up in an isolated garbage collection place until the virus is considered to have disappeared by itself.

However, burning waste also has its environmental risks, especially if it is not monitored by experts using special techniques that can reduce the production of harmful dioxin gases. The medical/infectious waste that is disposed in landfill is also dangerous for waste workers, scavengers, and can invite pests.

Not only medical and infectious waste, but other types of waste, such as food waste, food packaging, package scraps, are a new threat: What if the waste is exposed to patients or carriers of the virus and becomes a medium for spreading viruses?

What if the community still does not manage waste wisely in the new normal and unconsciously increases the chance of spreading the disease?

In addition to personal prevention (read also: How to Manage Waste to Prevent the Spread of Viruses), waste management systems in Indonesia also need to be supported by government regulations and programs from relevant agencies to ensure optimal prevention of the spread of viruses. But the concern from the community to be more careful in waste management, and to be aware that the decisions we make affect the survival of many people around us, are the most important.

The concern from the community to be more careful in waste management, and to be aware that the decisions we make affect the survival of many people around us, are the most important.

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