COVID-19 Medical Waste is Putting a Strain on Waste and Recycling Systems - Here's What Can Be Done About It, According to Experts

Over the past two years, disposable masks, used gloves and other personal protective equipment (PPE) use has skyrocketed, with most ending up in landfills or the ocean.

MELBOURNE, Australia, April 29, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- According to Waste Sense, which offers independent waste management services Melbourne-wide, over eight million tonnes of pandemic-related plastic waste has been generated since the beginning of the pandemic. Unsurprisingly, healthcare settings account for nearly three-quarters of all ocean-bound pandemic plastic. 

In February, the World Health Organisation released a report stating that the influx of COVID-19 medical waste is putting a strain on healthcare waste systems, which poses potential environmental and health risks. Additionally, the extra waste is putting a strain on traditional waste management and recycling systems, says Waste Sense.

Unfortunately, PPE can't be recycled through traditional means and can contaminate other recyclables, explains Waste Sense. But there is a potential circular economy solution to pandemic-generated waste. RMIT researchers have found that disposable face masks could be recycled to make roads. A recent study has revealed that just one kilometre of a two-lane road would use up about 3 million masks, preventing 93 tonnes of waste from going into landfills. 

The new road-making material developed by RMIT researchers mixes shredded single-use face masks with processed building rubble and meets civil engineering safety standards. According to analysis, the face masks help to add stiffness and strength to the final product, which is designed to be used for base layers of roads and pavements. 

Waste Sense explains that not only has the COVID-19 pandemic created a global health and economic crisis, but it has also had dramatic effects on the environment. By adopting circular economy thinking to the waste problem, smart and sustainable solutions can be developed.

Specialising in waste management Melbourne-wide, Waste Sense helps businesses make sense of their waste needs and sources solutions of all sizes. As an independent waste broker, there is no incentive for Waste Sense to send waste to the tip if it can be avoided, which is why almost a third of their services include recycled waste.

To find out more about the most cost-effective and environmentally responsible solutions to waste needs, contact Waste Sense today.

Waste Sense:

1300 492 783

2/16 Northumberland Street, South Melbourne, VIC 3205.

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