The Star Vector Logo 720x340Wednesday, 08 Jul 2020
BUTTERWORTH: Three-ply face masks cannot be recycled and those sending used face masks to recycling centres are putting people there at risk of infection.

Bagan Lalang Natural Resource Centre chairman Lim Chee Keong said volunteers at the centre received up to 50 non-woven face masks every day in the recycling bins when they should have been thrown away with other forms of domestic waste.

“Those who bring the used masks here have good intentions but are not aware of proper face masks disposal methods.

“At our segregation station, our volunteers have to suit up in protection gear to remove the masks from recyclable materials, ” said Lim.Three-ply or surgical masks are commonly made from mixtures of non-woven artificial fabrics and polypropylene thermoplastic and conventional recycling facilities cannot break them down for recycling.

Lim said the number of face masks found in their recycling bins were highest in April and May, when everyone was on high alert and used a lot of the masks daily.

“Sometimes, we get stacks of used masks neatly packed in bags inside the recycling bins. Yes, face masks are supposed to be packed and sealed before being disposed, but in the domestic waste bins. They cannot be recycled, ” he added.

He said his volunteers spent weeks educating people who sent masks for recycling and the number of masks that ended up in their recycling centre had reduced recently.