Walking my dog this morning I came across 2 more discarded face masks - I find them every day, and I live in rural mid-Wales. Goodness knows how many masks and gloves are found on the streets of cities and big towns. At the weekend, I was asked by a local teaching establishment if detaching the ear strings it would help the recycling of the many masks they get through every day. I could only say, follow government guidelines and discard them in your waste bins.
And today I come across a press release claiming that the issue has been solved and a campaign has been launched: #Reclaimthemask. The private sector has marched into action.
Reclaim The Mask is a recycling initiative by ReWorked – intended to reduce plastic pollution caused by COVID-19 disposable masks & gloves. Reworked quotes Dr Jennifer Cole, Northern European Regional Hub Coordinator of the Planetary Health Alliance at Royal Holloway University of London,“It is vitally important that we do not let the impact Covid-19 has had on human health be used as an excuse to further damage the health of our planet” – The core question remains, how can people dispose of masks in an environmentally friendly way?
Standard disposable masks are made of PP (polypropylene) which ReWorked use to create 'Stormboards'. Utilising innovative technology, they use their ‘giant waffle’ making machine to create boards from 100% recycled plastics. They also make sanitiser bins (made from 100% recycled plastics) for collecting used PPE & dispensing sanitiser to customers or employees. Closing the loop, it might seem.
Reworked claim there are already more face masks in the oceans than jelly-fish! With that frightening idea in mind, Reworked want to collect as many masks as possible. They are selling the 100% recycled PPE collecting bins and sanitiser dispensers to businesses and organisations and collecting and reprocessing the contents. They say they will start with a core focus on companies which use large amounts of masks each week.
I'm sure where Reworked have started others will follow. Thank goodness, it would be great to walk the dog again without having to pick up masks from the pavements and riverbanks.