Face Masks: New Approaches to Minimizing the Impact on the Environment

Face Masks: New Approaches to Minimizing the Impact on the Environment

Millions of disposable face masks have been supplied since the coronavirus epidemic began. Consequently, one of the issues we have right now is the amount of bio-medical waste generated due to the Covid-19. Woven masks, PPE kits, shoe covers, and gloves are being used and abandoned at an alarming rate. While most cities have some waste management systems in place, rural areas do not. 

This article will be providing an insight into the masks and how you can make good use. 

Continue reading to explore more!

Surgical Face masks: An Insight

Surgical masks beings readily available and cost-effective; we are sure that you must be using that too. But do you know the contents behind your surgical masks? Well, we must put some light on it to make you more clear.

You must be familiar that surgical masks are used long before the pandemic begins. They are intended to keep operating rooms sterile by preventing pathogens. They are mainly used to prevent germs to enter the wearer’s lips and nose from polluting a patient’s bloodstream.

Composition of Surgical masks 

Surgical face masks are composed of non-woven fabric, which is less slippery than woven cloth and better at removing germs. The most common material used to manufacture them is polypropylene, either 20 or 25 gsm. 

Recent data and surveys

According to a research study published on NCBI, it was found that the total quantity of medical waste generated in Asia is about 16,659.48 tonnes per day. India generates the highest medical waste per day (6,491.49 tonnes), followed by Iran (1,191.04 tonnes per day), Pakistan (1,099.30 tonnes per day), Saudi Arabia (1,083.17 tonnes per day), Bangladesh (927.81 tonnes per day), and Turkey (908.07 tonnes per day). 

Iran produces the most medical waste per day (6,491.49 tons/day).

Because of the rapid increase in the number of verified cases, the amount of medical waste produced as a consequence of COVID-19 has increased significantly. Protective equipment such as surgical gloves, surgical face masks, and aprons are recommended to safeguard essential healthcare service workers such as physicians, nurses, medical technicians, and nursing aids.

A More Appropriate Alternative

Already, some individuals are working on recycling existing masks and creating biodegradable masks, which is a promising development. The biodegradable fiber abaca (derived from banana plants) has shown more significant potential as a substitute for polyester and other synthetic materials for medical masks.

However, for the time being, the most effective thing that most of us can do to minimize pandemic-related waste is to use reusable cloth masks wherever feasible.

What about the face maks that have already been used?

Science is all about experiments and finding new approaches for a better world. Henceforth. Many types of research are going on that are not yet out in the world, and we are hoping that soon we will be able to hear them. We have compiled some of the recycling techniques that many science enthusiastic use to recycle the used face maks.

Let us look at them.

1. Wilko mask recyling

Face masks are being recycled as stormboards for the environment.

Wilko has become the first large company in the United Kingdom to provide consumers with the opportunity to recycle their disposable masks, with drop-off facilities located in around 150 shops throughout the country.

2. San Jose recycles

San Jose Recycles is a non-profit organization dedicated to recycling.

Masks made of fabric are allowed for recycling and other textiles in certain places, such as San Jose, California. Textile recycling, on the other hand, is not accessible everywhere.

Even in areas that do provide textile recycling, many people believe that face masks are a health hazard and will refuse to take them. It is important to note that you must first wash your old masks in hot water if your town accepts cloth masks for textile recycling.

3. Masks can build hospitals

Dr. Binish Desai is known as the “Recycle Man” of India. He has successfully converted more than 193 distinct kinds of trash into 100 different types of COVID-19 wastes, majorly of which are masks.

Dr. Binish has utilized PPE waste and used face masks trash to create an eco brick with the assistance of waste from paper companies.

One eco brick is composed of 52 percent shredded Covid personal protective equipment trash. This is trash that might have been disposed of in a landfill but is now being utilized to generate income.

Brick 2.0 is lighter and four times more durable than a standard brick! And each brick is just Rs. 2.8, which is a great deal!

4. Quarantine solutions for masks

You must be thinking about what is this? Just as a person goes for a quarantine period and so as the masks. 

The masks, like anybody who has been into contact with a coronavirus-infected person, must be confined for four days, precisely as if they had come into contact with a virus-infected person. The disposable masks are then torn into little pieces and subjected to ultraviolet light. It is then sterilized so that the masks will be free of bacteria and contaminants. 

The small mask pieces are crushed and ground to a powder, which is then mixed with a binding agent to form the company’s “Plaxtil” plastic product. The newly obtained raw plastic material is now utilized to make plastic visors, but it can be used to create several other products in the future.

Face masks: Disposal Do’s

In the lack of recommendations, many individuals would prefer to dispose of them wherever they want. You may dispose of your old masks as medical trash for those who have access to a medical waste disposal facility. In most cases, medical waste is burned. It is sometimes sanitized before being reintroduce into the regular waste stream. A second alternative is to dispose of your used masks as domestic hazardous trash, which may be recycled (HHW).

The only alternative is to dispose of their waste in the regular trash for the vast majority of individuals. Even if you have cleaned or kept the mask for 72 hours before throwing it away, place it in a tiny bag before throwing it away. Thus, if your trash bag rips, your neighbors and the garbage collector will not have to be concerned about possible exposure to hazardous materials.

Face masks: Don’ts in Disposal

In the year 2021, it is possible that as many as 1.5 billion face masks (of any type) would infiltrate marine ecosystems.

Like other forms of ocean pollution, Masks can emit microplastics or be consumed by animals. However, littering is never a good idea. Just dumping an old mask outside may pose a severe health risk if the mask has been exposed to virus particles, anybody who attempts to clean up after you runs the danger of being infected themselves. In the same way, you should avoid disposing of old masks (whether cloth or disposable) in open garbage cans or dumpsters.


We believe that the findings of the study of other Covid-19 wastes will pave the way for further research. Along with different kinds of COVID-19 trash – such as rubber gloves – may also be acceptable for recycling. However, as human beings, we must take all necessary measures. As a human being we should take small steps to prevent the production of ever-increasing amounts of Covid-19 trash. We can adopt cloth masks that are readily washable and recyclable.

We hope that we have discovered a solution and that this article has been worth your time to read. For more informational blogs like this one, please see our website’s main page.

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