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If you’re a regular reader of these Leaders you’ll realise how concerned I’ve been about the huge numbers of soiled, single-use facemasks blighting our planet. Like many others, I abhor wearing a mask and as soon as I leave whatever establishment I’ve briefly visited, tear mine off. But unlike so many other folk, I put mine in my pocket or bag, to be used again a few trips down the line. This has worked for me so far but I did have a ‘moment’ last week when struggling to keep my mask in place, before realising that it wasn’t my own mask I was fiddling with, but a larger one belonging to someone else. My next thought was: ‘Lucky I don’t go around picking up the discarded ones then!’ At least it was a family member’s…
Friends complain about the lack of waste bins specifically for these masks. My view is that there are plenty of bins around and it's better to use them than create hazardous litter. As well as the health issues, many of us are concerned about the damage these masks do to the environment. Globally, we dealt with plastic bags, but now we have facemasks blighting our open spaces and ensnaring wildlife instead.
It's not just selfishly-discarded facemasks that are of concern; it's all the extra PPE we're using - particularly in hospitals. In Cornwall alone, hospital disposable mask use went from 300 a day in 2019 to 10,000 a day in 2020! Then there's all the other PPE to consider. What are we going to do with it all?
Welsh company TCG Solutions has come to the rescue. It's collecting compacted, single-use plastic such as hospital curtains, sterilisation tray wraps, theatre gowns and face masks, and its Sterimelt machines, using patented thermal technology, melt everything into solid blocks of plastic that can be made into items such as bins, toolboxes and bottles - and potentially used for 3D printing.
TGS founder Philip Davison-Sebry, (pictured here with son and colleague Thomas) says the machines are an answer to single use plastic in general - not just surgical waste - and can see them becoming a big contributor to the circular economy, which is great news.
Now we just need to include the carelessly-discarded masks into the mix & we'll be there!
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11th February 2021