Published 3 years ago.
About a 4 minute read.
Image: The Venetian Resort
Surgical mask upcycling and antimicrobial, reusable packaging solutions are some of the latest initiatives aiming to clean up some of our COVID-fueled,
On top of the other significant ways that the COVID-19
pandemic has upended
life as we know, the renewed tidal wave of plastic waste flooding our beaches,
waterways and landfills — thanks to the global need for disposable PPE items and
our necessary reversion to single-use plastic supplies shrink-wrapped in plastic
— adds insult to injury. A number of
have already set to work to try to reverse this in various ways, and here are a
few more initiatives joining the fight.
Image credit: Venetian Resort
The Venetian Resort announced this week it will be the first Las
Vegas-based property — and one of the first in the US — to launch a program to
recycle the surgical face masks being used by guests and staff as part of
As part of this pilot project, in partnership with
TerraCycle, the discarded masks are
collected on-site at The Venetian Resort and sent to a recycling facility —
there, they are separated, shredded and densified into a crumb-like raw
material; which will be used to make repurposed products such as composite
lumber for shipping pallets, railroad ties and composite decking.
“Our responsibility to the planet is one of our company’s core values,” stated
George Markantonis, president and COO of The Venetian Resort Las Vegas.
“Our Sands ECO360 global
sustainability initiative was designed to help minimize our environmental
impact; and … as a company that has put sustainability in the forefront of our
operation, it was important to find a recycling solution for this PPE, to avoid
sending them to our landfills.”
Since re-opening in June, The Venetian Resort began diverting discarded surgical
face masks from other waste being sent to landfills, through an industry-leading
trash-sorting initiative that takes place on property.
In addition to this program, the resort actively sorts its trash, diverting 27
types of items that would otherwise be sent to landfills. Through this program,
between 55-60 percent of waste is diverted from local landfills, a number that
far surpasses the national average of 32 percent, or the state average of 23
Currently, consumer masks are not recycled through main-stream or curbside
recycling programs, due to the complexity of the recycling process. Surgical
face masks are made of a multitude of materials, and need to be sorted and
separated before recycling. In addition, a magnet is used to separate the metal
nose strips, which can melted and utilized in other recycled materials. This
pilot with TerraCycle will help provide proof of concept for such recycling, to
encourage other hospitality giants and businesses to replicate the program.
Image credit: Returnity
Meanwhile, circular shipping solution provider
Returnity has partnered with Swedish chemical company
Polygiene to create an improved reusable packaging product, treated with
Polygiene's ViralOff® antimicrobial solvent —
a treatment for textiles and other products that reduces viruses by 99% in two
hours. The initiative is a first for the packaging industry, directly addressing
recent concerns linked to COVID-19 that have reversed progress in the fight
against plastic pollution. The packaging, designed by Returnity, will be
protected by Polygiene's ViralOff antimicrobial solution. The initial order
value is around USD 500 000 over two years.
Returnity’s reusable, cost-effective and lightweight shipping boxes and bags
help eliminate the proliferation of waste generated by
— namely, cardboard boxes and poly mailer
— while reducing packaging expenses; and providing a financial return, improved
user experience and significant reductions in resource consumption.
"What we do at Returnity is build out these reusable solutions and empower the
broader systems necessary for companies to shift to the circular economy. By
partnering with Polygiene, we are now able to create something that better
addresses consumer needs in our world today," said Mike Newman, CEO of
Returnity Innovations. "By creating this system that prioritizes safety with
antimicrobial coating for our packaging, we are providing a legitimate, reusable
option that the consumer can feel good about — from both a safety standpoint and
an environmental one."
Polygiene treats materials to extend the life of garments, footwear, gear and
textiles. Its ViralOff® antimicrobial solvent is a durable, always-on treatment
that inhibits bacterial growth.
"Our vision is to change washing and disposal habits, and significantly reduce
the environmental impact of a product. When we met Returnity, we realized that
our objectives were aligned and that there was an opportunity to work together
to further enhance their reusable boxes and bags by treating them with
ViralOff," said Polygiene CEO Ulrika Björk. "Anti-viral treatments have been
a game-changer while navigating the pandemic, and we believe that these
treatments will become the new standard for reusables in the future."
Published Jul 22, 2020 2pm EDT / 11am PDT / 7pm BST / 8pm CEST