Wilko to launch UK first in-store face mask recycling scheme

Company: Wilko

A new scheme instore at wilko will see customers able to drop off used, disposable face masks so that they can be recycled and reused as everything from building materials to new furniture for communities in need.

150 of the home and garden retailer’s stores nationwide will have special collection bins for customers to safely drop off their used single use face masks, after shopping for essential items instore. Face masks are currently mandatory nationwide as the public takes steps to keep themselves and others safe while out in public during the pandemic.

Once full, these collection bins are then taken away by recycling specialists ReWorked, who together with Metrisk Ltd, Scan2Recycle and wilko are partnering to make the unique scheme – the first of its kind on the UK high street - possible.

Collected masks are shredded down into raw materials, which can be sustainably refashioned into products ranging from other safety materials for businesses, to building materials and even quality, durable public space furniture.

The Covid-19 crisis has seen a huge increase in the use of disposable face masks as the nation adapts its everyday behaviour around public safety guidelines. While the government has encouraged Brits to dispose of face masks via general waste bins, there has been an ever-increasing volume of PPE being discarded in public spaces – meaning there are often greater levels of litter nationwide in areas such as parks, beaches and high streets; impacting the life and leisure time of local communities, endangering wildlife and ultimately harming the health of the planet.

Disposable face masks are made from polypropylene fabric - a type of plastic. An estimated 8M tonnes of general plastic waste already ended up in the world’s oceans every year, and the impact of the pandemic will only increase those figures if PPE litter continues to increase. 

Wilko and its partners for this scheme hope that providing an easy way to safely dispose of used PPE will help make it easier for hardworking Brits to reduce litter in the community and in turn do their bit for the planet.

Jerome Saint Marc, CEO at wilko, said: “One of our core values is to show we care and, we understand the importance of climate change to our customers who expect us to take-action on their behalf and make better choices about caring for the environment.

“That’s why we’re thrilled to have developed this scheme, which makes it super simple for shoppers to safely recycle a product which is often unavoidably discarded as a result of us all taking steps to protect the health of everyone around us. What’s more, it also means we’re able to help hardworking families, local communities and other businesses by turning something that we’re simply throwing away into a useful and sustainable product that can have a genuinely positive impact.”

The scheme is the latest in an ongoing series of measures which wilko is implementing to make a positive difference to the environment; the retailer has pledged to reach Net Zero Carbon by 2040 by signing the BRC’s Climate Action Roadmap and has joined The UK Plastics Pact, which focuses solely on reducing the use of single use plastic.

For more information on disposable mask recycling at wilko and which of the retailer’s stores are taking part, please visit www.wilko.com/face-mask-recycling. This scheme is a pilot and will run for three months from 1st April 2021. 

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