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How to effectively manage the recycling of masks?
The first thing to keep in mind when we are getting rid of a protective mask is to be aware: it is a product that can be potentially contaminated with COVID-19. And for this reason, it is very important that we recycle the masks in an aproppiate way.
In fact, today there are already many institutions that have published recommendations for the recycling and disposal of protective masks. Among them, some entities of great prestige in the health field, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) or the spanish agency AEMPS have given their opinion.
However, it seems for now that all experts have their own opinion about what's the best way to manage mask waste.
Some basic recommendations on mask recycling
GTF M. Camps wants to highlight, among all the recommendations published by the main national and international health authorities about protective masks recycling, the following advices:
- It is advisable to leave the masks in a safe place for 24 hours before throwing them into the trash container, for example inside a waste bag. This mainly serves to allow anyone who has to handle garbage to be safer at all times.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends throwing them away in a suitable trash container, immediately after use and not reusing them.
- Before putting protective masks them in a waste container, it is advisable to cut the two rubber bands that hold the mask around the ears. In this way you will be able to avoid that, if this mask ends up unintentionally in our seas and oceans, it does not behave like a trap net for the animals that inhabit them.
- You have to remove the mask by grabbing its two elastic strips and then fold it so that the outside is facing inside.
- By cutting the rubber bands you will contribute to the protection of marine fauna
- Putting the masks in their own plastic bag, within the waste residues, increases the safety of the person who is going to manage this waste.
Recyclable or non-recyclable? WHO recommendations
Surgical masks are made of a polypropylene non-woven fabric, produced from ethylene, which is a chemical compound derived from petroleum or natural gas. An d it is a type of plastic that is very difficult to destroy. And that, therefore, harmful to the environment.
What does the WHO recommend regarding the recycling of masks?
- How does polypropylene affect the recycling / disposal of masks?
Polypropylene is a type of plastic that takes around 450 years to break down. Therefore, our collaboration in the correct use in its disposal is vital. Both for the population as a whole and for our planet.
- What does the WHO recommend doing with masks?
Some people wonder if it is appropriate to put the masks in the recyclable waste container and the answer is no: this could put the health of garbage collectors and other workers in the recycling industry at risk.
What are the options for getting rid of face masks?
- The best option is, without a doubt, to deposit the masks in a container of sanitary waste.
- And if that option is not viable -which is the most common-, the best option is to deposit them in the waste container (gray container).
- It is not recommended in any case to deposit them in the plastic container (yellow container).