It's unlikely to catch the coronavirus from a discarded mask, but unfortunately disposable PPE does pose a risk to the environment. As more people wear masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, more tons of improperly discarded masks and PPE become litter around the world.
Regrettably single-use masks are not easily recycled due to health implications and because they're made up of multiple materials. But there may be recyclable options in the not so distant future. A few companies are looking at new technologies to find ways of reuse.
Since mid-July a firm in France, has been recycling thousands of masks and turning the waste into plastics. Masks are collected and “quarantined”, then ground into small pieces and subjected to ultraviolet light to ensure they are completely decontaminated before the recycling process begins. After the decontamination process they are again ground and mixed with a binding agent and turned into a material which can be molded like normal plastic. Interestingly, the new plastic is turned into products used in the fight against Covid, like plastic visors.
Another innovative approach is happening in Las Vegas. The Venetian hotel has partnered with a company that specializes in recycling materials not accepted in traditional curbside recycling programs. Single use masks are provided to all guests and workers resulting in hundreds of pounds of new trash destined for the landfill. Now special collection boxes are placed throughout the resort for easy and safe dispose of used masks. Once collected, the company shreds the masks and PPE into a crumb-like material which is used to form products such as shipping pallets, composite decking and composite lumber.
It's important to keep our current public health crisis from adding to the plastic pollution crisis. Make sure to dispose of your mask properly and securely in a trash bin and look for recyclable options as you travel and when you return home. #staysafe #stayhealthy
COVID-19 affects different people in different ways. Infected people may have had a wide range of symptoms from mild to severe illness. Be aware of any changes in your health and call your medical provider for symptoms that are concerning to you.
You may also choose to self-quarantine yourself away from your family or anyone you share your home with for their protection.
Check your company regarding any return to work policies that may be in effect.
Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
Fever or chills
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Muscle or body aches
New loss of taste or smell
Congestion or runny nose
Nausea or vomiting
Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
Inability to wake or stay awake
Bluish lips or face
It’s important to share your experience with others. You can help others navigate the new travel landscape based on your experience. Common understanding of expectations will help everyone feel safer and more informed when traveling.
Get in touch with your travel team and let them know about your experience. What was helpful and what is needed. The more information they have the better.
Evaluate your suppliers so others can benefit from your experiences. If someone is doing something more innovative or better let them know. Take those quick surveys. It’s only a few minutes of your time and can really make a difference. Feedback has never been more important.
Let your colleagues know how things went as well. Everyone is curious. If you have a company blog or social media site, use it. Your insights are probably more helpful than you know. Something simple may be a big deal. Is there a particularly good place that delivers food? Where’s the easiest place to get a mask in the airport? How do you eat on the plane? Crowd sourced information is one of the best ways to get to real time info from people you trust.