Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, first responders and healthcare workers have relied on
plastic-based, single-use personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and gowns to protect themselves against coronavirus. The result was a mountain of
plastic waste that was rising high.
How to deal with the used plastic face masks?
Well a group of experts from the University of Petroleum and Energy Studies in India, suggested PPE should be liquefied into “renewable” fossil fuels and burned.
“It’s an efficient and economical method”, the study said.
They claimed that this recycling is not only able to stop plastic waste but can also produce a "clean" liquid fuel to meet growing global demand for energy.
However, GAIA explained that this recycling contributes to climate change. It
releases toxic chemicals into the atmosphere — like benzene, BPA, cadmium and lead, which are linked to leukemia, reproductive malfunction, lung problems and neurological degeneration.
Yet for healthcare workers who are researching and treating COVID-19 patients, medical PPE masks are the safest option.
Up until the day we can make a reusable PPE kit, plastic mask waste will have to be dealt with somehow.
For the plastics that we can’t do without, the question is how to cause the least harm. We need to find out which option has the least risky and non-beneficial effects : landfilling.
We can still limit the amount of PPE that gets wasted, though. Health experts around the world have highlighted the importance of reusable PPE and face masks for someone who isn’t a health care professional.
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