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Coronavirus: B.C. company creates mask recycling program to combat waste

Click to play video: 'Mask recycling program coming to the Okanagan' Mask recycling program coming to the Okanagan
Mask recycling program coming to the Okanagan – Feb 19, 2021

Single-use masks and respirators have become an everyday item for most people, and they can quickly become garbage.

A Lower Mainland company is bringing a mask recycling program to B.C’s Interior to try and address the problem.

“We developed a recycling program so respirators and masks can be given a second life,” said Mikhail Moore, Vitacore’s president.

Vitacore, a Burnaby-based PPE company, hopes to change the way we dispose of single-use masks and respirators with a new collection bin.

Read more: 2 masks are better than 1 to protect against coronavirus, CDC confirms

Currently, the company has four collection sites throughout the Lower Mainland at medical facilities. 

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Moore said the company is planning on expanding the program across Canada but first has his sights set on B.C.

“We started with these four collection centres because they’re strategic for collecting at a medical facility. In fact, we are dealing with COVID-19 testing centres and vaccinations facilities,” said Moore.

“We wanted to start with that and prove it can be safely done in these facilities before rolling it out to others.”

The program is coming to the Okanagan soon, according to the Vitacore.

“We’re looking to roll out into the Okanagan in six to eight weeks — that’s what we’re targeting,” Moore told Global News on Friday.

Read more: With coronavirus variants spreading, are masks needed outdoors?

The program began this February, and is Canada’s first end-to-end single use mask and respirator recycling strategy as the company also produces masks.

Vitacore has partnered up with McMaster University to find uses for the recycled plastic.

“We take that PPE and repalletize it and turn it back into pellets of raw plastic and then put it into a product for a second life,” said Moore.

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Read more: Plastic waste from personal protective equipment — the other coronavirus ‘plague’

The Regional District of Central Okanagan said single-use masks and respirators have not been a major issue for them but they do welcome another reduce and reuse program in the region.

“We certainly look forward to receiving more details about the program in the days and weeks ahead,” said Rae Stewart, RDCO’s waste reduction facilitator.

“That said, anything reducing garbage in our landfill is welcomed by the regional district.”

According to Vitacore, after the program is established at medical centres, there are plans to expand it to grocery stores and other public areas.

Click to play video: 'Proper use of masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19' Proper use of masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19
Proper use of masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 – Feb 10, 2021

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