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July 17, 2020 2 min read

The Environmentally Safe Way to Dispose of Your Face Mask, Gloves and Wipes

After the past few months, face masks have become essential while being out in public. It seems like masks are here to stay as many foresee face masks being a part of every day life in the months, or maybe even years to come. 
 
At Oakfin, we hope you have decided to opt for the sustainable and reusable masks. Even if it means you have to get rid of the old, non-sustainable mask. 
 
Doctors and Infectious Disease Experts explain that improper disposal of such PPEs (personal protective equipment) can cause the coronavirus to spread more easily. On top of that, these masks have a breakdown lifespan of 450 years in our natural environment! We wont get into how detrimental that can be, or the fact that there will soon be more masks in the ocean than jellyfish… BUT, we are going to explain exactly how to dispose of these masks safely so they don’t pollute and contaminate our environment.
 
First, Some Notes:
- Face masks, gloves and wipes ARE NOT recyclable! These items contaminate the recycle stream and make it unusable!
- If you have a homemade mask, wash them and sanitize them and put them in a drawer for later use.
- Masks, gloves, and even wet wipes should NEVER BE FLUSHED! *Even if they are labeled “flushable’ *
 
Unfortunately, it sounds like the damage has already been done by needing to get rid of these non-biodegradable PPEs. It is now our responsibility to dispose of these items properly, so that they do not contaminate our environment. Here’s how:
 
The CPI (Confederation of Paper Industries) is advising that instead of recycling PPEs, such materials should be treated in the same way as domestic medical waste like soiled hygiene products. These items should be bagged separately and disposed of in general waste. Even though it is in general waste, you can have the peace of mind that these items will not be polluting or backing up other recyclable items, sewer systems and our environment in general. 
 
When choosing your next mask, make sure it is sustainable, washable and reusable.
 
* If you have been diagnosed with Covid-19 and must dispose of your PPEs from your home, these items must be handled differently by disinfecting and incinerated. You can coordinate this with your local waste management *
PJ Pierangeli
PJ Pierangeli


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