Five hospitals in the UK have bought special thermal heating machines which convert used plastic gowns and masks into reusable plastic blocks. St Woolos Hospital in Newport, Wales, Queens Hospital in Burton, Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, Harrogate Hospital and the Royal Cornwall Hospital are all using the machines. Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, tens of thousands of tonnes of single-use plastic waste has been created. Last year in March, the World Health Organisation asked governments and manufacturers to increase single-use Personal Protection Equipment production by 40 percent to meet the demand the pandemic has caused. Thermal Compaction Group, the company which developed the technology, stated that 11 other hospitals are due to receive the technology.

How Does It Work?

The machines turn hospital plastic waste such as gowns, curtains and single-use masks into metre-long blocks. The equipment squishes and melts down a material called polypropylene, which is widely used in plastic masks and gowns. The high temperature of this melting process also sterilises the plastic waste which rids any bad or harmful germs, according to TCG. The blocks can then be redeveloped into a wide range of new products including school chairs, bins and toolboxes.

Benefits Of Hospitals Recycling PPE

It's estimated that 53 million single-use face masks are being used in the UK each day, which is the same as about 55,000 tonnes of waste over the last 12 months. The use of the masks are necessary, even with reusable masks available, it is unlikely that single-use masks will cease to be used with the threat of the pandemic. By recycling used PPE plastic it can be turned into new useful things instead of being thrown away.