The dark side of masks

The dark side of masks

For several months now and probably well into 2021, the biggest problem we are going to face is overcoming the great pandemic of this century.

La COVID19 is the disease that is marking our day to day as individuals. But also at a collective level, our health, education or the economy; This virus is affecting all aspects of our society.

At the environmental level, we have seen how they have been collected positive news due to the stoppage in production, the stagnation of consumption and, consequently, the drop in the level of emissions into the atmosphere.

These positive news for the environmental world, have been a reflection of what can be achieved if the administrations and companies really had a common green objective.

The truth is that, far from being encouraging news, they are only obvious consequences of the global paralysis caused by this pandemic. Therefore, it is to be expected that when the population returns to the (long-awaited) normality, all the parameters of contamination, deforestation, emissions, etc. will return to their "abnormal" levels.

However, we have added one more problem (if there was any other) as regards the environment, it isThe increase in plastic waste generated by COVID19.

Plastic is an essential material for personal protective equipment (PPE) of healthcare personnel. The masks that they use, the so-called FPPs, They have a filter material made up of a mesh of plastic fibers that retains viruses.

In addition to the masks, other PPE also made of plastic material are the gloves, waterproof coats, goggles and visors and face shields. But the use of plastic material in hospitals is not limited to PPE. It also includes various pieces for medical equipment, such as respirators and fans, polycarbonate syringes, etc.

The generation of hospital waste has multiplied by four in our country.

To all this we must also add the increase caused by nursing homes, and the increase in consumption of these items by the population.

The big problem of these residues is that cannot be recycled and its destination will be either landfills or incineration. The problem now lies in the facilities for heat treatment of hospital waste that are beginning to collapse.

In Spain, heat treatment plants that are dedicated to this type of waste are not enough. This is the case of the Valdemingómez plant in Madrid, which has already touched its ceiling (90 tons per day).

And there is a great risk that if you do not work with the optimal conditions for the incineration of waste that has a high plastic content, emissions of carcinogenic compounds such as dioxins and furans can be generated.

In addition to all this, we find entire countries where their population is forced to wear masks. Millions of face masks daily with millions of plastic wrappings that end up being waste in a matter of hours.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also increased the consumption of other disposable plastics such as bags, water bottles, containers to send food to your home or packaging from internet commerce. A Ecoembes report notes that since the start of the alarm state, the collection of material in the yellow containers has increased by 15%. This increase is due to higher consumption within households as a consequence of population confinement.

From Packawin we would like to emphasize our compostable products. Precisely now that the business model in the hospitality world is beginning to turn towards take away, it is essential that we use biodegradable materials, if possible compostable and of course, no plastic.

Wheat fiber, bagasse, Palm leaf or bamboo, are natural materials that are also compostable, so they will never become waste. Everything returns to Earth, where it came from. Is there a better option?

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