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Lake Mac discovers way to reuse disposable face masks

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We’re slowly removing face masks from our daily routine but then what?

In 2020 alone there were an estimated 52 billion disposable facemasks produced with an estimated 1.6 billion of them ending up in the ocean.

This month local community groups Munibung Hill Conservation Society and Warners Bay Area Sustainable Neighbourhoods Group have banded together to try and help reduce the environmental impact of this COVID-19 side effect by offering to recycle disposable face masks.

For a limited time, collection boxes have been set up at Coles Warners Bay, Bunnings Glendale, Warners Bay High School and Speers Point Public school.

The four TerraCycle Zero-Waste Boxes have been secured allowing for the recycling of non-woven disposable, plastic-based face masks including 3-ply surgical, dust masks, KN95, and N95 masks. 

The coordinator of this initiative, Anna Noon, says the boxes are about supporting the community to embrace a circular economy.

“While face masks have been a helpful tool in slowing the spread of COVID-19, there has been a huge rise in masks littering our streets and waterways,” she said.

“With the support of local businesses and schools, we are diverting thousands of masks from entering landfill.”

The NSW Government implemented changes to face mask mandates a fortnight ago, reducing the requirement to regularly wear the nose and mouth coverings.

But, used masks are already filtering through our systems.

“This is one of the major impacts of COVID that people rarely talk about,” Ms Noon says.

“We encourages all local residences to gather up any used masks they have lying around their house, car or in the bottom of their handbags and deposit them into a TerraCycle recycling box, where they will be safely turned into items such as outdoor furniture and decking boarding.”

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