Posted by Brianna Crandall — September 2, 2022 — While the rapid distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) has been essential to save lives during the Covid-19 response, PPE waste is also creating major environmental issues. To raise awareness of this problem and how to tackle it, Safetec Direct in the U.K. has created a comprehensive guide to properly manage PPE that should be of interest to facilities managers (FMs) in all industries, especially those in healthcare facilities.
- Short-term and long-term effects of PPE damage on the environment
- Wider plastic waste and the pandemic
- How to safely dispose of PPE used during Covid-19
- What types of PPE can be recycled
- Advice for reducing the amount of PPE wastage
Here are just a handful of the insights from the guide:
- In the UK, 784 million PPE items were used in hospitals in just a 53-day period at the start of the pandemic. This equated to 14 million pieces of equipment being thrown away daily.
- If every person wears a single-use face mask every day for a year, as much as 66,000 tons of unrecyclable plastic waste could be thrown away. This would cause damage to marine ecosystems, as well as pollution of natural resources.
- The sudden need for single-use PPE, bubble wrap for the transportation of online shopping, and numerous other Covid-related factors have directly resulted in a surge in plastic production. Most of this plastic is “new plastic” rather than recycled plastic — new plastic is far more damaging to the environment but 83% to 93% cheaper to produce.
The complete report, The Impact of Plastic PPE during Covid-19: How to Reduce and Dispose of Our PPE Waste More Responsibly, is available to view on the Safetec Direct website.