Posted on: June 11, 2021 | Whiteshell News
In an effort to increase the diversion of disposable masks from landfills, the province has launched an initiative with international recycling operation TerraCycle to recycle disposable masks from 15 locations at Manitoba provincial parks, Conservation and Climate Minister Sarah Guillemard announced on June 11.
“Mask use is critical for protection during the COVID-19 pandemic, but once a disposable mask is used, it becomes waste that should be treated differently than standard garbage or recyclables,” said Guillemard. “We want Manitobans to remain safe and are committed to keeping our parks clean, while reducing the environmental impact of disposable masks.”
Provincial parks have experienced an increase in attendance during the past year and this trend is expected to continue. With the encouragement of mask use, Manitoba’s parks may see an increase in discarded masks.
Disposable masks will be collected using TerraCycle’s Disposable Masks Zero Waste Boxes. Once the boxes are filled, the masks will be shipped to a TerraCycle sorting facility in Ontario and broken down into component materials. Metal from the masks is repurposed into new metal sheeting while the polypropylene-dominant mixture is converted into a raw material used in plastic lumber and composite decking applications. The elastic portion is ground into a fine mesh and mixed with recycled plastics as an additive to provide flexibility to other products.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has posed many challenges to the global community including worldwide spikes in plastic pollution caused by the improper disposal of single-use face masks,” said Tom Szaky, CEO and founder, TerraCycle. “As a company, TerraCycle’s mission has always been to ‘Eliminate the Idea of Waste’ and through the use of our Zero Waste Box program, we provide an easy solution to collect and recycle disposable masks, keeping them out of the landfill and from littering our natural spaces.”
In the Whiteshell, TerraCycle’s Zero Waste Boxes are being distributed to Falcon Beach town site, Falcon Lake Beach campground office and West Hawk Lake campground office.