Reclaim the Mask – the only fully integrated PPE recycling system
Since we launched #ReclaimTheMask in October 2020, we’ve successfully recycled over 8 million single-use facemasks. The scheme is proudly the only fully integrated PPE recycling system in the UK.
With boxes implemented by Wilko, Morrisons and Brighton & Hove council, to name a few, the campaign has undoubtedly been an enormous success.
During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, we rose from the negatives to give a positive angle to a newly imposed waste problem…the single-use facemask – Offering a recycling solution boasting innovative technologies and the ability to recover 100% of the mask material.
Despite the issue seeming newly imposed, PPE had been causing problems within the recycling industry pre-covid for years. Luckily we were already tackling the issue, particularly within the manufacturing world, well before the pandemic caused a tidal wave of new single-use plastics to hit our streets.
We began setting up collections and recycling single-use PPE, such as hairnets, beard shrouds, masks, coveralls, in 2016, mainly for companies in the food industry such as Betty & Taylor’s of Harrogate. Our long-established waste management and recycling background enable us to create and manage bespoke recycling systems from audit to collection to final product.
When the pandemic first hit, the last thing on people’s minds – including ours – was PPE and innovation; our priorities turned to our families, friends and loved ones. But as we operate in the recycling industry, we had to remain open to service waste systems within the UK. During these initial months, we turned our minds to the issue, realising PPE would need to be dealt with – if we were to protect our oceans, rivers, verges and wildlife – while also attempting to reduce the overall impact on our waste output as a nation.
Our systems allowed us to build a collection, storage and containment system, pre-processing, sanitisation and final product creation all in-house and at one site. No other scheme in the UK – or indeed worldwide – can offer these fully circular, in-house routes for PPE; and the ‘Reclaim the Mask’ system was born.
Unlike other systems, we do not need pre-processing by the consumer or client, so nose clips, ear elastics, can stay on. We also don’t refuse or reject certain masks; all disposable masks are accepted, providing a full and open service for disposal and removing the consumer’s burden.
Initially, the PPE waste is quarantined before processing. It’s then moved to our plastics facility, where we process all the material and then mould into an initial building product; our workshop then turns these into new products and long-life systems, all with an onward recycling route through us.
We are often asked about the clinical background and producers of PPE; when we set up ‘Reclaim the Mask’, it was designed to handle the new wave of materials that the public would have to encounter, not to tackle an existing and well-established system like the NHS. But we have also responded to this and are now able to offer a small autoclave system that can be provided to any healthcare-based operation, set up as a permanent fixture for the on-site sanitation of waste before our agreed collections and complete recycling. This is also not just limited to PPE, and we aim to target a lot more clinical waste – single-use plastics from these backgrounds – such as sharps, syringes etc., which can be disposed of mixed and recycled by us without any pre-processing by the client.
Our main plastics facility has also installed a more extensive autoclave system on-site to run under a full clinical permit, meaning we can directly take clinical waste for processing if the option of source sanitation is not viable.
Products made can range from simple signage to full shop-fit and exhibition schemes, outdoor play equipment, garden products and seating, building systems and even into new moulded products, all in-house from problem to new item.
The first items we made were sanitiser bins, a bin from the PPE it collects in return! There’s no better story for the waste. Our quick reaction and disruptive thinking allowed us to act and make an immediate impact in these challenging times.
MYgroup is the new face of Mytum & Selby Waste Recycling Ltd, a brand we feel reflects the size and capability of our company without losing our roots, our ethos, or our ingenuity and passion for recycling your waste.
With over 30 years of industry experience and four state-of-the-art sites handling over 750,000 tons of waste per year, MYgroup is one of the few waste management companies in the country that can offer actual total waste management. We never the need to pass any of your waste on – or broker it out – giving you true peace of mind every step of the way.
Note to readers: ReWorked are the hard-to-recycle plastics arm of MYgroup, specialising in the most complex mixed material waste streams.
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