Masks, Gloves & Other PPE Make a Mess for Mother Earth

Hands in PPE Gloves

Stay Safe While Protecting Others and the Planet

Efforts to flatten the curve and slow the spread of COVID-19 have led to an increase in the use of protective face masks and gloves. The use of such protective gear increased when the Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued advice to wear face masks in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. The demand for and use of personal protective equipment for employees and individuals have seen a dramatic increase. Taking the proper safety precautions is important, now possibly more than ever.

However, properly disposing of masks gloves and other types of PPE is also important. We first learned from our friends at SWANA of a trend in which PPE equipment is showing up as litter. We want to bring awareness to the fact that these items need to be disposed of properly for the benefit of the planet and her people.

Identifying the Problem

We have talked about our love of SWANA before many times. SWANA stands for the Solid Waste Association of North America. This is a group comprised of people from both the public and private sectors of the waste management industry and they have over 10,000 members.

SWANA works to improve how solid waste is managed. They do this through the implementation of new technology and collaboration. Waste management is important to SWANA and when they noticed this unsettling trend of PPE becoming litter, they decided to step forward.

Leading the Way

SWANA not only identified this problem, but they are also working to implement solutions. The goal is to ensure items are properly disposed of and that everyone is safe. “I have been in contact with SWANA’s chapters and many haulers, state and local officials throughout the United States over the past few weeks and have pledged SWANA’s support as we respond to this unprecedented situation,” said David Biderman, SWANA Executive Director, and CEO. He added, “We will continue to provide updates and guidance to our members and others in the waste industry on a regular basis.”

“The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has identified solid waste management as a worker group and employer who may have potential exposures to COVID-19. Municipal waste and recycling workers should manage municipal solid waste and recycling with potential or known COVID-19 contamination like any other non-contaminated municipal waste. Continue to use typical engineering and administrative controls, safe work practices, and PPE,” Biderman explains.

reusable recycling bags

Implementing a Solution

The solution is that most of these items need to be tossed into a trash can instead of our environment.

Baylor College of Medicine’s Isabel Valdez, a physician assistant, says “We know these viruses can live in these surfaces anywhere between two hours to two days,” and recommends wiping gloves down with hand sanitizer before tossing them.

Most PPE items cannot be recycled although some, including bottles made for hand sanitizer, can be recycled. Look for the recycling logo that is 1, 2, 4, or 5 in order to determine if a plastic bottle can be recycled.

You can contact your local recycler as they are essential businesses (as SWANA reminded all state and local governments that solid waste management is an essential public service) to find out if they accept masks, gloves, and other forms of PPE.

Here to Help

We are offering all the help you need to increase the recycling rate in your area with our reusable recycling bags. These reusable bags are proven to make recycling easy in apartments and other types of multifamily dwellings. They essentially do the job of the bins commonly used in curbside recycling programs for single-family homes. These bags can also be customized with your own artwork, so you can include recycling instructions or commonly asked recycling questions to help people understand the right way to recycle.

We make it easy to order your very own custom reusable recycling bags. We’ve been creating custom reusable bags for over 10 years, so we have streamlined the process to eliminate stress while also reducing the cost and saving time. The entire process from design and quoting through ordering can all be done online. Contact us for help creating reusable recycling bags for your organization.


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