ISLAMABAD: With hospitals serving as the frontlines to fighting the novel coronavirus pandemic and the source of potentially highly infectious waste, a top environment official of the federal capital disclosed that they did not have credible and adequate systems in place to either monitor or accumulate data about the waste generated and disposed of by healthcare facilities managing infected patients. This was stated by the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Director General Farzana Altaf Shah on Tuesday during a webinar organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI). She said that the improper disposal of such waste material could be detrimental for the environment and human health due to its hazardous non-biodegradable nature. The EPA chief pointed to the lacunas in the existing solid waste management system of the city and invited health and waste disposal experts to help find a solution to the issue. “Unfortunately, we have still have not been able to manage the municipal waste in our cities,” she said, adding that the city’s current population is far more than what its planners had anticipated at this point. “Our forecasts need to be more accurate, no matter how harsh the reality,” she said. At the moment, Shah said that they estimate each resident will generate around 0.25 kilogrammes of waste per day. Shah added that one of the most tragic things about this was that they have still not been able to define how different types of waste needs to be managed such as the number of masks and gloves that people were using and discarding during the pandemic. “Gloves are made of non-degradable substances. We do not even realize how we are contaminating areas by [improperly] disposing of these masks and gloves,” she said. “We have yet to collect any data on the amount of waste produced by the swabs used for the Covid-19 tests. We must collect data and information about how these swabs can be disposed of properly” The EPA chief added some of their findings showed that plastic waste such as produced in hospitals was reused in alarming ways. The environmental officer suggested putting in place a policy system regarding the management of solid waste backed by strong legislation. “Littering is to be fined according to Islamabad’s local government ordinance of 2015,” she pointed out, adding that some policy is in place, but implementation is lax.“How many people have been fined for littering our capital city,” she asked.