Coronavirus: More Montreal communities adopting PPE recycling

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Coronavirus: More Montreal communities adopting PPE recycling
WATCH: Two more Montreal area communities are making it easier to recycle personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and gloves with recycling boxes installed in various locations. As Global’s Phil Carpenter reports, recycling PPE across the country could soon be even easier. – Dec 2, 2020

Two more Montreal-area communities are making it easier to recycle personal protective equipment.

Authorities in the cities of Vaudreuil-Dorion and Pointe-Claire have set up boxes at various locations where people can drop off the items. Officials in both cities say it’s about time.

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“I have noticed masks lying in the street and like the volume just went up, right,” Judith Largy-Nadeau, Vaudreuil-Dorion’s environmental advisor noted. “People using them and just disposing of them wherever they can. We thought this would be a good opportunity to send them somewhere else where they can be reused instead.”

In that city, only disposable masks are being collected for now whereas, in Pointe-Claire, residents can drop off masks, safety glasses and earplugs.

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“When the box gets full it is sealed and it is sent back to the company to be recycled,” explained that city’s mayor John Belvedere.

Read more: Montreal’s Saint-Laurent borough installs recycling boxes for disposable masks

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Officials at that company, New Jersey-based TerraCycle, say the recovered items are used in what they call low-end industry applications. “Things like railroad ties, outdoor furniture and plastic shipping palettes,” said Dylan Layfield, TerraCycle’s senior materials solutions manager, in a Skype interview in November.

The initiatives come weeks after the borough of Saint-Laurent began collecting used PPE for recycling.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: The growing problem of disposable PPE waste'
Coronavirus: The growing problem of disposable PPE waste

Since the start of the pandemic, environmentalists have been alarmed by how much PPE is being dumped in landfills and waterways.

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According to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, in one year approximately 63,000 tons of COVID-19-related PPE could end up as waste.

Largy-Nadeau is surprised more companies aren’t recycling protective equipment.

“It seems like it would be possible to recycle it and I think we should be moving to recycling things as much as possible,” she said.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Montreal borough plans to recycle masks and other PPE'
Coronavirus: Montreal borough plans to recycle masks and other PPE

In addition to recyling used items, more PPE could soon be made more environmentally friendly as well. Earlier this fall Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada issued a call for entrepreneurs to propose solutions such as biodegradable and recyclable PPE.

“The two challenges combined attracted 90 proposals from small and medium-sized enterprises,” spokesperson Riyadh Nazerally said in an email to Global News. “The Government of Canada anticipates funding recipients to be selected and awarded in the first quarter of 2021.”

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Largy-Nadeau said she welcomes all solution to not polluting the environment with PPE.

“If we can reuse them, recycle them instead, it’s always a good option,” she stressed.

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