Just a year ago, their scarcity was a problem. Today they are another serious threat to the environment. What to do with used masks?
Disposable masks, next to latex gloves, have become one of the most popular covid waste. Statistics show that almost 30% of Poles throw them directly onto the street, and according to a report by OceansAsia, more than 1.5 billion used masks ended up in the oceans during the year. Fortunately, scientists and startups are actively looking for uses for the new waste.
The second life of a disposable mask
One company that has decided to tackle the mask problem is French startup Plaxtil. After initial tests, the company began to process used masks into a material with properties similar to plastic. Plaxtil produces from it elements of personal protection, such as holders for visors. The masks are first quarantined and then exposed to UV radiation.
Another approach to the problem was presented by scientists from RMIT University in Melbourne, who want to use masks for road construction. The recipe they came up with assumes using RCA aggregate and cut masks. As research shows, such a mixture may prove to be more durable than ordinary concrete.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of willing companies and institutions trying to find a use for the accumulating masks. The pandemic is ongoing, which means the problem will be around for a long time to come.
Main photo: Kobby Mendez/unsplash.com