news

2021

WASTE DISPOSAL AND MANAGEMENT IN PANAMA

Zila Samaniego, head of the Central Medicines Depot of the Ministry of Health (MINSA) of Panamahas revealed the discovery of abandoned medicines and medical supplies worth at least $600,000 in a local Panama warehouse in a state of deterioration. Samaniego explained the medicines were probably forgotten during a move of MINSA facilities but it now brings to light the big question of how to handle and dispose of these medicines. The stock is more than 10 years old, and though not expired, it is not safe for patients. To ensure they are not erroneously dispatched to patients, they must be destroyed/incinerated in a safe and environmentally friendly way. The importance of a pristine waste management process for pharmaceuticals cannot be understated.  

Environmental awareness is slowly growing in Panama, from beach clean ups and changes to garbage disposal habits (Panama was the first Central American country to ban plastic bags by retailers last year and also the first country to join the UN Environment’s CleanSeas campaign). However, burning of trash, throwing it into ditches and emptying into rivers or the ocean are old habits that can be changed with education and example. As a business that strives to be socially responsible, we at Intercontinental Logistics Corp. believe this is important and urgent, especially for the complex disposal of pharmaceutical waste which can be hazardous, infectious or leaking.

The solution 

Healthcare facilities used to have on-site incinerators but that proved to be a disaster. They were often too insufficient to cope with high volumes and contributed greatly to pollution. Also, with waste management not being a core part of their business, selecting and operating equipment was an extra responsibility – and one they were not expert at. Since then, private contractors such as ILC have taken over this task. When choosing such a contractor, it is essential to mitigate your risks and make sure they have proper permits and knowledge of local laws and regulations and that they are not simply removing your waste and dumping it illegally somewhere else. 

How ILC can help 

We operate a business unit that specializes in transporting waste to our premises for incineration or thermal treatment. We carry out all steps and reduce costs this way. 

Collection 

We provide daily to weekly collection services. Our equipment includes not only wheeled bins, skips and skip hire, but also specialist hazardous waste collection boxes and trucks. Safety and adhering to correct regulations are our priority. Our truck drivers are trained. They know how to correctly label and treat different wastes (from infectious to hazardous to chemotherapy waste), to provide a fresh supply of collection bags and how to leave your premises clean and safe. They also clean and disinfect our transport vehicles on a daily basis at the end of the journey. 

Disposal and incineration services 

Our on-site equipment includes compactors, reducers and medium and large specialist waste incinerators. Our machines are reliable and ensure secure destruction of all bio-hazard waste. Incineration is considered a safe way to treat pharma waste, biological and medical waste and is ideal for healthcare facilities (i.e. sharp waste). Incineration is highly recommended as long as special filters collect pollutants that would otherwise be released into smoke. Landfills contaminate soil with waste chemicals, fill the atmosphere with toxins, and have a serious impact on a community’s ecosystem and the health of its inhabitants. Take methane for example; a powerful gas released from landfills into the atmosphere. It goes on to spread pathogens in freshwater and agricultural soil leading to the spread of disease. 

 

To complement the efforts of Panama’s new government on reducing healthcare inequalities, we are passionate about doing our bit for social responsibility and helping to prevent unsightly trash and the spread of disease. To get in touch with a waste management expert, email us at tulogistica@ilc.com.pa