Recycling and correct disposal of PPE

It can be disheartening for people who have tried so hard to live a zero-waste lifestyle to suddenly see all the extra single-use packaging appearing post-COV-ID, including PPE.  However, there is also confusion about how to follow the correct disposal of PPE; can it go in the recycle bin? Or, does it head to general waste?

This can be an issue both in the home and also in commercial premises and offices.  As people are unsure how to dispose of them, they may start to be left on pavements, tables, desks and bathrooms. Not knowing the correct disposal of PPE and if they can be recycled or put into general waste can cause a hazard in the workplace and increase the spread of germs.

So, what is the process for correct disposal of PPE?

Unfortunately, there is no good news for those who want to recycle and re-use. COVID-19 can linger on surfaces and masks are a haven for droplets and germs. It is extremely important to wrap and dispose of facemasks, gloves and other PPE swiftly and in one location. This location, unfortunately, is the general waste bin.

To manage this effectively in your workplace, talk to your commercial cleaner about the best process for disposal.  Your cleaning supervisor should have a COVID-19 cleaning program in place. This should include frequent cleaning of touchpoint areas and separate, sealed disposal bins for any used masks, gloves and other PPE.  Your commercial cleaning team can then protect themselves by knowing where the used PPE is located. They can then bag it up and dispose of it safely.

correct disposal of PPE

Can PPE be recycled?

Unfortunately, PPE cannot be recycled.  Not only are the materials used not recyclable, but the threat of virus spread is also just too great.  If you want to reduce the PPE heading to landfill, encourage staff and promote re-usable and washable face masks. You may even want to provide one to each of your employees to promote health and wellbeing.

Masks are a controversial topic. In some countries use is compulsory whilst other healthcare and government sites see little value in wearing masks unless you display symptoms. What is agreed is that frequent hand washing should be a key part of everyone’s day. Carrying out frequent sanitisation and disinfection of workplaces and public venues is the strongest fight we have against eradicating COVD-19 in Australia.



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