How Dulsco is tackling waste in the time of coronavirus?
Gavin McQuillan, commercial director – environmental solutions at Dulsco, talks about the firm’s response and strategies towards COVID-19
There were several challenges facing the waste management sector; however, with the current COVID-19 outbreak, they are several more obstacles to overcome. Gavin McQuillan, commercial director – environmental solutions at Dulsco, says that prior to the current pandemic, the main challenge in the waste management sector was to promote recycling and get the public to segregate their waste in the best way possible to help achieve maximum diversion from landfill and align with the government vision of diverting more than 75% of the waste from landfill by 2021.
McQuillan adds: “The current pandemic of COVID-19 imposes new challenges on the waste management sector including health and safety measures for operational staff, especially when it comes to clients mixing potentially contaminated waste with general waste and recyclables.
“Having the recyclables that we collect and segregate, mixed with potential biohazardous material can expose our operatives to potential infection, so an in-depth analysis was carried out to ensure our operatives where supplied with the most appropriate PPE and best practices were adhered to.”
As a trusted partner of Dubai Municipality for over eight years, Dulsco deployed its assets and expertise in the support of the government’s efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.
McQuillan elaborates: “We have enhanced the health and safety measures equipped and trained our teams to handle COVID-19 suspected biohazardous waste in order to serve potentially infected communities including hotels, accommodations and clinics. We have also optimised our existing resources to support Dubai Municipality and the UAE government in the mass disinfection efforts for public places including bins sanitisation after every collection.”
In response to the nationwide demand for large-scale sanitisation, Dulsco has developed a Mass Sprayer System to prevent and arrest the progress of the novel coronavirus, using internationally approved virucides. The company resourcefully repurposed its mobile tankers and equipped them with mist generators dispersing disinfectants over large areas safely and efficiently. McQuillan says: “Manned by our trained crew, the Mass Sprayer System has been designed for maximum impact across residential communities, commercial properties, quarantine zones and public spaces.
“Meanwhile, we have used our Portable Pumper System highly effective for closed areas and objects such as the decontamination of waste collection bins, vehicles and equipment.”
Dulsco has also introduced a sanitising tunnel built by its engineering team to allow commercial and publicly accessible buildings such as office buildings, medical facilities, quarantine zones, malls and markets to have a safe point of entry. Personnel and residents entering the premises pass through a non-toxic sanitising spray providing an added defence against the virus being transported into the site.
“Following our experience in the medical waste handling and transportation, we have utilised our Dubai Municipality-authorised hazardous waste transport vehicles and our highly trained hazardous waste crews to start collecting and handling potentially contaminated waste from hotels, hospitals and any other quarantine facilities before they are delivered for incineration or other advised locations by the municipality,” McQuillan says.
However, McQuillan adds that Dulsco’s commitment to its clients and communities couldn’t have been fulfilled without the strategic efforts of its business leaders putting together a business continuity plan which has been in place for a period of over four weeks and has initiated a series measures to ensure the firm maintains uninterrupted service to its clients and stakeholders.
The measures include:
• A high level action group (CAG) has been formed to deal with potential emergencies to allow the business continue to perform its operations and to communicate effectively and timely with employees, customers and the authorities. CAG is also responsible to resume the business to normal after the effects of Covid-19 are neutralised.
• Special isolation facilities established as backup and to enable quarantine arrangements within our accommodations.
• Regular monitoring including temperature checking and overall body disinfecting are in place for all employees in the accommodation.
• Body temperature is being checked for all employees before boarding busses and entering premises.
• HSE-trained team commissioned to conduct safety awareness sessions and apply sanitisation to accommodations, offices and workshops in addition to regular disinfection of transport vehicles following every shift.
• Specific “Tool Box Talk” has been communicated to all supervisors and line managers to spread further awareness among workers allocated at different client sites.
• Standard DHA guidelines/protocols developed and implemented at Dulsco Clinic to deal with suspected cases.
• All employees handling waste are equipped with PPE and safety glasses.
Technology has played a major part in Dulsco’s success. McQuillan says: “Dulsco realises the significance of technology in the waste management sector, especially after being named the official waste management partner of Expo 2020, where we committed to an 85% diversion from landfill that can only be achieved by implementing technological advancements to our waste management process.”
Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak Dulsco was in the process of commissioning a Material Recovery Facility (MRF) the first of its kind in the country that would segregate up to 240 tonnes of mixed recyclables per day. This will now be delayed due to the current travel restrictions, he says.
In addition to the above, McQuillan says that Dulsco has numerous recycling facilities, from slop and sludge recycling, to paper pulp and glass upcycling.
McQuillan concludes by saying that even in the current COVID-19 scenario, “technology was an enabler for Dulsco to customise and operate the newly launched sanitisation solutions, which reflected especially in its mass spray systems, and sanitisation tunnels”.