While it is true that most PPE items (such as masks, gloves and gowns) are non-recyclable, it is still important to consult your local waste management plants and authorities prior to discarding your COVID-19 induced waste. Some facilities/municipalities may have mitigation measures in place for appropriate disposal of medical and bio-hazardous items. For example, a team of researchers at The University of Petroleum and Energy Studies in Dehradun, India recently suggested the idea of turning used PPE into liquid biofuel to address the waste management crisis while appealing to energy demands.
An important point to consider when buying your Personal Protective Equipment is the rating of the product (more specifically aimed at masks). For instance, many reusable cloth masks have a a low filtration rate and are simply cotton woven fabrics, while disposable KN95 masks are rated to have over 95% filtration rates and approved by respected medical authorities such as Health Canada.
Some reusable masks are rated by credible authorities to be as safe as disposable non-medical masks so keep an eye out for the labels. However, it is worth noting that such masks would need to be washed regularly as some studies pointed that COVID-19 particles can last as long as 28 days on certain materials. In addition, some laundry detergents and cleaning products may deteriorate the fabric and therefore reduce its effectiveness at filtering harmful airborne particles.
All in all, weighing your decision on whether to buy disposable PPE should be based off your lifestyle. If you are an essential worker in the medical industry, you may need to comply with certified PPE attire to respect workplace restrictions. If you work from home or study remotely, it is your responsibility to reduce the frequency of your non-essential outings and protect those around you by following the guidelines advised by the World Health Organization. This should minimize your personal demand of PPE as much as possible at least until the pandemic has eased off or a solution has been found for the waste management crisis (or better yet, a vaccine has been found).
In the meantime, if you too are concerned for the environment, then join the movement to tackle the problem at its source: habitat loss as a result of climate change. So let us work together with the common goal of meeting the United Nations Sustainability Goals to achieve a healthy future for our planet and therefore our children so they never have to deal with such crises.
Thank you for reading this post. Feel free to browse our website to order your stock of PPE in wholesale prices. We also encourage families to purchase in bulk to reduce our shipping-induced carbon footprint.