What can you do to reduce PPE waste? Personal protective equipment (PPE) has been an invaluable tool in the fight against Covid-19, and has helped to keep people safe all across the globe. Face masks, overalls and gloves have slowed down the spread of the virus, and reduced the risk for healthcare workers on the frontline.
Though the benefits of PPE are clear, there are some underlying issues that arise with the widespread use of these items. One of the biggest concerns is around responsible disposal and recycling of used equipment, to limit the impact it’s having on the environment.
Did you know that at the start of the pandemic, 14 million pieces of PPE were being thrown away every day in the UK alone? And by the end of 2020, 6.76 billion items of PPE had been distributed in England? To prevent long-term environmental damage, it’s important for both businesses and individuals to limit their PPE wastage – but how can you play your part?
Check recycling options
PPE has come a long way in the space of two years, and there are more options available than ever before. The standard disposable medical face masks are made of plastic, and won’t be recyclable unless particular collection and treatment methods are used. As a result of the potential environmental impacts of PPE, people have been finding ways to create more sustainable products, and that includes ones that are recyclable.
There are some specialist recycling services available, which appear to be the best way to dispose of single-use masks, but these are typically hard to come by, and are less accessible than traditional council collection. If recycling isn’t an option, then consider buying items that you can reuse.
Avoid single-use items
In recent times, there has been a global push to reduce the consumption of single-use items, to help reduce waste and protect the environment. Whilst you may already have considered other areas of your life where you can cut out single-use products, it’s important to also take these good habits into the collective fight against Covid-19.
Particularly when it comes to face coverings, there are so many alternatives to the standard disposable medical masks. Reusable fabric face coverings are the most common substitute for disposable ones, as they can be washed and used again unlike medical masks. If you are using fabric masks, do note that the World Health Organisation recommends that they should have at least three layers to ensure they’re effective in reducing the spread of the virus. You should also make sure to wash them regularly.
Buy in bulk
Buying products in bulk may seem counterintuitive, since you’re looking to reduce the amount of waste you’re producing. However, when it comes to certain protective items, such as hand sanitizer, buying in bulk is a great way to cut down on your use of harmful materials, since less packaging will be required overall.
Instead of buying pocket-sized sanitizers, buy a refillable bottle that can be topped up. Similarly, items like protective gloves can also be bought in bulk, which will further reduce your plastic waste.
It’s important to consider ways to reduce PPE wastage throughout the product life cycle, from purchasing decisions to responsible disposal. If everyone adopted these good practices, we’d be helping to keep the environment safe during and after the pandemic.
Many thanks to our guest blogger guest blogger 6 X Degree Media ~London