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How To Recycle Your Disposable Face Masks

Before the pandemic, it felt like a movement was brewing, as more people turned their backs on plastic and prioritised the future of the planet. But when Covid hit, we didn’t always have the luxury of shunning single-use products.

Health took precedence as millions of people wore disposable face masks for personal safety. And after a few hours of use, they’d be discarded in bins – or on the streets. In fact, you probably saw them littering gutters and waterways, wreaking havoc on local wildlife. Even the nation’s pets were impacted, as My Family Vets saw a rise in face mask ingestion cases in dogs.

Disposable face masks are made from polypropylene fabric, a type of plastic. According to action group Waste Free Oceans, they can take 450 years to decompose in nature. Roughly 8m tonnes of general plastic waste ended up in the world’s oceans every year, before Covid. But the emergence of Covid will only increase those figures if PPE litter continues to rise.

One year in, some good news is finally emerging. While such masks have been considered non-recyclable, there are companies now finding ways to repurpose all of this waste.

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