Project Summary
The Rotary Club’s Environment Committee has undertaken a project to help medical facilities, businesses, and individuals safely recycle their plastic masks and PPE. To start, we are partnering with businesses and facilities located in Stratford, Ontario.
Masks are Plastic
Did you know that disposable masks are made of plastic? Masks disposed in the garbage end up in the landfill, and masks discarded directly in the ecosystem are causing many environmental issues. Moreover, when they break down to nano plastics that are easily taken in by all animal species and can cause serious health problems.
“A November 2020 report by Tony Walker, an associate professor at the School for Resource and Environmental Studies at Dalhousie University, an estimated 129 billion face masks and 65 billion gloves are used globally every month. That's three million masks a minute.”
Aside from entanglement and ingestion, Justine Ammendolia, an environmental scientist and data analyst, says “they’re starting to find animals are also impacted by the chemicals leaching off these plastics into soil and water. When plastic is left for a prolonged period of time it will eventually break down and create microplastics. When you have millions of these microfibers, it’s quite challenging to remove from the environment. They’re expecting to see a detectable amount of microplastic pollution created from PPE waste.”
Read more in this 2021 Canadian Geographic article.
What can be done?
Individuals can choose to wear a reusable (cloth) mask, but many individuals and organizations use plastic masks and PPE (such as in healthcare and manufacturing) because they are more convenient and have better filters.
Face masks and other PPE can be sterilized, reprocessed and formed into pellets,
and used to create nonwoven textiles and other injection-molded items, creating a circular lifecycle.
The Rotary Club is working with a local organization to collect and store masks and PPE, and when there is a large enough collection, to drop the PPE off at LifeCycle Revive’s facility in Kitchener and Brantford, Ontario.
Watch this short video on PPE recycling by LifeCycle, or you can read more about the recycling partner LifeCycle by visiting their website.
What can by recycled?
This project is focused on recycling disposable masks, face shields and goggles, and isolation gowns. ONLY “clean” PPE will be collected and recycled.
  • No products in contact with COVID-19 patients or soiled with any bodily fluids will be collected. Those materials must be disposed of under usual guidelines for hazardous biowaste.
For a larger view of what can be recycled, click the link on the left!
For Businesses – Mask and PPE Collection & Pick Up
As a business/organization in Stratford, your facility collects masks and accepted PPE in a bin with a compostable bag liner. When the bin is full, call for a Rotary project team members to pick up your bag of recyclable PPE -OR- you can drop the bag off at one of the designated drop off sites listed below.
Please review this Rotary PPE Recycling Information Sheet for further details. (Link is on the left)
If you are interested in participating in this project, your first step is to contact a Rotary team member who will provide more information and get your organization registered.
Mask Collection and Drop Off (small volume only)
Smaller participating organizations are welcome to drop off their closed disposable bag of accepted masks and PPE to one of these partner locations.
Please ensure your compostable bag is full, not contaminated with any other materials than designated and fully sealed prior to drop-off.
Consult our Small Volume – Business Drop Off Locations page of participating organization’s websites for hours of operation. (Link is to the left)
More Information
For more information including additional resources and FAQ, use the left-hand navigation on this page to read our FAQ and find links to additional Resources.
Donations Gratefully Accepted
PPE recycling is not free. Our project expenses include purchasing collection bins, printing posters and materials for collection sites, and paying a per-bag fee when we drop off PPE at our recycling partner, LifeCycle.
Your donations are gratefully accepted.
Rotary Club of Stratford e transfer:
In the e transfer message, please note include your mailing address and indicate “Donation for Rotary Environment PPE Recycling Project”
For other ways to donate, visit the Rotary Donation page.
Contact Us
Questions? Interested in Participating? For more information or to speak with us about participating in this program, contact:
Doug Thompson or Patricia Nascu
Photo: Dr Patricia Nascu with a load of masks ready for recycling!