Recycling program for single-use masks coming to B.C. Interior | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Recycling program for single-use masks coming to B.C. Interior

FILE PHOTO - A discarded face mask is shown on a street next to a mobile COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Sunday, May 17, 2020.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
February 19, 2021 - 7:30 AM

A new program to recycle single-use masks and respirators will soon be expanded from the Lower Mainland to the rest of B.C., with plans to begin in the Interior only weeks away.

And bins to dump your mask into may soon be available at a grocery store in your neighbourhood.

Recycling bins for personal protective equipment or PPE are currently located at long-term care and urgent care facilities in Metro Vancouver, as part of a program launched by Burnaby-based Vitacore, which also produces N95 equivalent respirators.

But company president Mikhail Moore says Vitacore plans to expand the program across Canada with B.C. being the first province to see the program province-wide.

"We're looking at by April," Moore said. "Starting in certain health care facilities, then a roll out to other sectors and then the general public." 

Moore says the B.C. rollout could begin in the next few weeks, but sometime in April is their planned start date, with a further expansion across Canada in the next six to eight months.

"We'd like to expand as quickly as possible across the B.C. Interior. We've already had some inquiries about expanding (to that area) within the next couple of months," Moore said.

Mask disposal bins could also be available in public locations like grocery stores and shopping malls within eight months, depending on Vitacore securing necessary partnerships to aid in disposal.  

Workers who are trained in sanitization and hospital protocols collect the PPE and then return the articles to Vitacore, who then sanitize and ship the items to McMaster University for recycling. The plastic is then melted down into pellets.

"The plastic used in single-use masks and respirators, will be given a second life as construction materials to reinforce concrete or siding for buildings and reduce the amount of waste heading to landfills," reads a Vitacore news release.

But if you're looking to dispose of your mask right now, Moore says it's acceptable to throw it in a secured garbage bag. He says better that than throwing potentially contaminated waste on the street.


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