Medical face masks and other Covid personal protective equipment (PPE) could be recycled to make curtains and bedsheets for hospitals, under new government plans.
Answering a written question submitted by the Liberal Democrat MP for Richmond Park Sarah Olney, Health Minister Edward Argar said: “We are reviewing the potential of reusable Type IIR (medical grade) masks in acute settings, using existing laundry services to reduce the need for single-use products.”
Mr Argar said as the government was considering alternative ways to recycle PPE waste, “this type of mask could be recycled into curtains, mattress covers or other products to contribute to the sustainable disposal of personal protective equipment and zero to landfill recycling programme.”
He added: “We plan to pilot reusable eye protection where the product can be recycled at the end of its life. We have recycled 22 million visors to make plastic containers, which can be used to store food items and will also be recyclable.”
The Minister also said that NHS Test and Trace is also exploring alternatives to current test devices which are safe, effective and made of predominantly recyclable or biodegradable materials.
Last month, Heriot-Watt University in Scotland announced a new partnership with Britain’s biggest PPE manufacturer Globus Group to give a second life to plastic PPE waste.