Best Way to Dispose of Used Face Masks? Turn Them Into Roads
In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a real – and legitimate – concern that there weren’t enough face masks floating around. Companies quickly jumped into action, making millions of this now instantly recognizable protective gear. However, jump into the first few months of 2021 and people now have another problem: that we may have too many face masks and that this could be a potential environmental problem.
“The current COVID-19 pandemic is responsible for creating too much garbage,” Jie Li, professor at the engineering school at RMIT University, Australia, told Digital Trends. “The single-use, single-use face masks can be seen in parks, streets, beaches and almost everywhere. Since the masks are mainly made of non-biodegradable plastics, it takes up to 450 years for these disposable masks to disintegrate in the environment. Urgent action is needed to address the emerging problems associated with the manufacture of face masks. “
However, RMIT University has a solution – and these single-use face masks are being recycled into usable building materials for new roads. The approach was to first disinfect the masks used and then crush them into strips about half a centimeter by two centimeters. The crushed material can then be mixed with processed construction rubble – in one part to 99 parts of the processed rubble mix – to obtain a mix that meets civil engineering safety standards.
The inclusion of the shredded face mask improves the ductility (i.e., the ability to undergo physical change in shape without breaking), flexibility, and strength of the building material. Should the new mix be used to build a two-lane road that stretches for half a mile, the researchers claim 3 million masks could not end up in landfills.
“This study was [just] a preliminary study and we just wanted to answer the questions, if we can [conceivably] Use the face masks on roads and whatever … the effects of [this would be]”Said Li.” Our team is very interested and would like to work with local governments or industry who are interested in collecting masks and building a street prototype. “
An article was recently published in the journal Science of the Total Environment describing the work entitled “Conversion of COVID-19 Disposable Face Masks for the Base / Underlay of Sidewalks”.