Launch of Compliant COVID-19 PPE Treatment Services
Veolia has launched a suite of integrated collection, disposal and recycling solutions for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) used by keyworkers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The collection of potentially contaminated gloves, safety goggles, masks, overalls, clothes, textiles, and hard hats has presented considerable challenges for companies in many sectors during the pandemic, including maintenance engineering and cleaning where operatives provide key services to support communities and industry.
Veolia’s new solution is particularly targeted at remote workers who travel from customer site to customer site without returning to a central location. These teams are now required to adopt different procedures for re-use of PPE and wear additional COVID-19 related safety wear. For example an engineering team of 200 could typically need collection and treatment services for 2000 pieces of PPE each week.
Created by redesigning existing operations, the service also manages the complete process for discarded items from the workers’ home using dedicated disposal boxes. This includes safe double-bagged storage for 72 hours at a secure location followed by collection and transport to its end destination at an appropriate treatment facility. The whole process is managed by a specialist team supported by Veolia’s dedicated helpdesk facility.
Although often made from recyclable material the form and quantity collected in this way is often too low or too complex to recycle alongside other materials, and potential contamination with coronavirus means the equipment needs to be treated via the disposal process. Compliant disposal of materials is carried out using Veolia’s nationwide network of ten energy recovery facilities, ERF, that ensure the items are handled correctly and recover energy from the process which in turn feeds the UK electricity grid and supplies heat for communities through district heating schemes. A typical 2000 item load disposed of in this way saves the CO2 equivalent to powering a TV for 24 hours a day over 3 weeks .
Richard Kirkman, Veolia’s Head of COVID-19 Response and Chief Technology and Innovation Officer, says: “During periods of uncertainty it is important for businesses to innovate to accommodate the fast-changing needs of customers. By adapting our services we’ve done just that, and we can now provide a safe and compliant way of treating the unprecedented amount of discarded PPE. Using Energy Recovery Facilities means we also generate useful electricity and heat, and save carbon emissions which helps make the service more sustainable.”
Veolia currently operates ten Energy Recovery Facilities with an electricity generating capacity of over 180MWe, and these provide enough electricity for 431,000 homes.