By Ayshwarya Vikram Jun 14, 2021

India’s recent steep surge in COVID-19 cases has the world rallying to provide support, supplies and expertise to help the country treat infected patients, provide more vaccines and slow the spread of new cases1. Among the myriad of challenges is how India safely handles and disposes of the staggering amount of infectious bio-medical waste being generated as a result of the pandemic.

India generates 600 tons per day of non-COVID-19 related bio-medical waste according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the key regulatory body for medical waste management in the country2. In addition to this, the amount of bio-medical waste resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic alone has risen to a staggering 230 tons per day in May 20213. The expanding treatment capacity of hospitals, increased usage of personal protective equipment kits and home quarantining measures contribute to the increase in the country’s daily output of bio-medical waste.

This bio-medical waste poses serious public health and environmental dangers, if it is not properly handled, treated and disposed of. This infectious waste can put citizens, communities and the environment at risk by potentially spreading infections and contaminating soil and ground water4. The Indian government has acted quickly to address this situation; however, the sheer magnitude of the problem needs help from all fronts. There is an urgent need for more support, and the private sector is well-positioned to help. One company playing an active role is Ramky Enviro Engineers Limited (“Ramky Enviro”). Ramky Enviro is one of the Asia’s leading providers of comprehensive environmental management services, with medical waste management being one of its key business units.

Ramky Enviro’s Biomedical Waste Management business works with over 35,000 healthcare facilities in India and handles more than 40,000 tons of bio-medical waste across 23 cities per year. Over the past year, Ramky Enviro has handled 10,000+ tons of COVID-19-related waste across 950 hospitals and COVID-19 quarantine centers. At the peak of the crisis last year, Ramky Enviro handled 180 tons of medical waste per day, which included 60 tons of COVID-19 waste.

The company has more than 1,500 frontline employees and over 350 support personnel working with hospitals and medical facilities across India to safely collect and dispose of COVID-19 and other bio-medical waste within 24 hours of collection to prevent further spread of infection. Ramky Enviro’s end-to-end operations consist of packaging the waste in double-lined and tear-resistant bags and transporting the waste to approved treatment facilities where it is incinerated in dual chamber incinerators at 1,050 Celsius5.

In this unprecedented time, the company has taken additional precautionary measures to protect the health and well-being of its employees. This includes designing new protocols for COVID-19 in consultation with Health & Safety experts, training employees on the latest measures on handling COVID-19-related waste to ensure all of its work is done in accordance with the Indian government’s prescribed hygienic and sanitation measures6 and providing each team member with required personal protective equipment. Ramky Enviro appreciates the critical role its frontline employees are playing and has also provided them with support via a comprehensive COVID assistance program, including medical insurance and additional compensation for their dedicated service.

KKR invested in Ramky Enviro in 2019 and we are proud to work closely with the company as it plays a front and center role in solving India’s bio-medical waste crisis. Our connection with India goes far beyond our investments – we live and work in our local communities and have family, friends and loved ones who have been impacted by the pandemic. Working together, we will help India successfully navigate through these difficult days and rebound from the pandemic.