Wilko launches recycling scheme for disposable face masks in UK high street first

UK charity launch Plastics Pact to help aid recycling

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Wilko is doing its part to help tackle the thousands of masks that end up being thrown in rubbish heaps or littering streets. Customers will soon be able to recycle your single-use disposable face masks in Wilko stores across the UK.

Wilko will introduce recycling bins at 150 of its stores.

Shoppers will be able to get rid of their face masks after using them.

The masks are made from polypropylene fabric, which is a type of plastic that can not usually be easily recycled.

According to Waste Free Oceans, the masks can take 450 years to decompose in nature.

Around eight million tonnes of general plastic waste ended up in the world’s oceans annually, before the pandemic.

That figure is likely to rise if people all over the world continue to dispose of their masks and other PPE products in the streets.

By recycling masks at Wilko stores, the public are helping to care for the environment and the planet.

Wilko will take the masks to recycling specialist ReWorked where, after a 72 hour period, they will be washed and shredded down to raw materials.

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Those materials will then be reused and turned into anything from building materials to furniture.

The scheme is the first to be launched on the British high street and is set to run for three months, starting from next Thursday, April 1.

A Wilko spokesperson said: “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.

“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,” they added.

The masks recycling scheme is the latest in an ongoing series of measures implemented by Wilko to make a positive difference to the environment.

The retail chain has pledged to reach Net Zero Carbon by 2040 and has joined The UK Plastics Pact, which focuses on reducing the use of single use plastic.

Wilko CEO, Jerome Saint Marc, said: “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.

“It also means we’re able to help hard-working families, local communities and other businesses by turning something we’re simply throwing away into a useful and sustainable product that can have a genuinely positive impact.”

Although it is the first big UK business to offer recycling points for masks, Wilko is not the first retailer to roll-out a major recycling scheme.

Earlier this month, Tesco announced that it will be introducing a new recycling service into its stores, where customers will be able to recycle soft plastic packaging like crisp packets, pet food pouches, and bread bags.

Tesco expects to collect and recycle 1,000 tonnes a year, the equivalent of 150 million standard loaf bags, with the new service.

Soft plastic is not commonly collected by local councils and often thrown away, adding to landfill.

The retailer has already began rolling out the recycling points to 171 stores in the South West of England and Wales, and it plans to offer the service in all large stores nationwide.

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