Innovation in recycling and sterilisation technologies has resulted in a breakthrough for the recycling of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Yorkshire-based company ReWorked has developed a full-service operation, to process disposable face masks, gloves and visors for public and private sectors and schemes have been set up to recycle PPE for customers and staff in various business settings.
Testing has also begun to recycle face masks for NHS and medical sites in the UK. Previously their masks would have been incinerated – a process that releases harmful emissions.
Through further exploration, the hope is the scheme will roll out to hospitals across the UK and become standard practice for single-use waste.
ReWorked marketing manager Izzie Glazzard commented: “We are on the brink of launching some large scale PPE recycling schemes on the UK high street. It provides an invaluable service for customers who want protection from Covid-19 but don’t want the environment to suffer as a consequence”.
The driving force behind the scheme is the rise in PPE usage seen worldwide due to the pandemic and WWF noting that around 10m masks are polluting fragile ecosystems every month.
At ReWorked, the collected PPE waste is quarantined for 72 hours after which it undergoes a lengthy process of shredding and washing. The shredded plastic is layered onto what ReWorked calls its ‘Stormboard Mill’, where it is heated and pressed into a solid board. These durable plastic boards can then be used as building materials or cut to become furniture, bins & other practical items.
ReWorked refers to the process as Reclaiming The Mask, as part of its ongoing #ReclaimTheMask campaign, urging companies to take control and responsibility for the growing PPE waste issue.