The single-use face coverings have become a cause for concern with more and more discarded masks finding their way into littering streets and hedgerows, endangering wildlife that get tangled up in them and becoming an unforeseen side-effect of Covid-19.
They are now set to be recycled into sustainable building materials, furniture and even PPE collection bins as the store chain teams up with recycling firm Reworked.
The sustainable single-use facemask recycling scheme will launch in 150 Wilko stores nationwide, including the branch in the city and the Spalding store too. Customers doing their essential shopping will be able to bring their used disposable masks and safely place them in the collection bins at the front of the stores.
An estimated 129 billion face masks are used globally every single month. In an effort to reduce the harm caused, the home and garden retailer has teamed up with ReWorked and Scan2Recycle - launching an innovative scheme to recycle the single-use facemasks, titled #ReclaimTheMask.
Jerome Saint Marc, chief executive at Wilko, said: “Showing we care isn’t something we just do at Wilko, it’s one of our core values. We’re thrilled to partner with ReWorked to be the first on the high street to take positive action, recycling discarded face masks on behalf of our customers.
“The scheme is super simple for shoppers to safely recycle a product which is often unavoidably discarded as a result of us all taking steps to protect the health of everyone around us. What’s more, it also means we’re able to help hardworking families, local communities and other businesses by turning something that we’re simply throwing away into a useful and sustainable product that can have a genuinely positive impact.”
The campaign brings new hope for the mountains of waste PPE reportedly found washing up on our beaches, polluting our waterways and scattered along our streets.
Scientific research suggests there are now more disposable face masks in the world’s oceans than jellyfish. Undoubtedly, providing a safe place for people to dispose of and recycle masks will positively affect the environment.
The facemask material, made primarily from PP (polypropylene, a type of plastic), is sent to Yorkshire based recycling partners ReWorked for processing. After a minimum 72-hour quarantine period, the PPE is washed & shredded into 5mm pieces before being mixed with other waste plastic to a specific recipe.
The shredded plastic mixture is heated to over 200C and pressed into durable boards. The boards go on to become building materials, furniture and even bins to collect more waste plastic.
Izzie Glazzard, Marketing Manager at ReWorked, said: “It’s brilliant to be working with Wilko to tackle such an important and current issue. Their drive to provide this innovative service to their customers has been admirable.
“The scheme tackles a waste issue nobody had even considered until recently. Initiatives like these can drastically reduce the amount of harmful plastic waste entering our streets, parks and oceans, affecting the health of our planet.”
The high-street first campaign launches on April 1 and will run for three months.
For more information on the scheme visit - https://www.wilko.com/face-mask-recycling