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Blue medical masks for Covid-19 protection
Photograph: Karolina Grabowska/Pexels (Creative Commons)

Turns out you can recycle single-use gloves and masks – here’s how

TerraCycle makes zero-waste boxes that can turn used gloves and masks into new products

Nicola Dowse
Written by
Nicola Dowse

Melburnians have become accustomed to wearing masks every time we leave the house. Many choose washable fabric masks, but there are plenty of people who prefer one-use surgical masks, and some wear gloves in high-risk environments like supermarkets. These things keep us safe, but you might be wondering about all the extra landfill you’re creating. There have even been reports of gloves and masks polluting beaches across the world. While it’s pretty much on brand for humans, it’s unacceptable – and entirely preventable. 

As it turns out, you don’t need to toss personal protective equipment in the rubbish. TerraCycle makes Safety Equipment and Protective Gear Zero Waste Boxes, which let you recycle everything from plastic gloves and masks to earplugs, safety glasses and hairnets. 

Once you order and receive your box, you simply fill it up, then send it back using the prepaid shipping label. TerraCycle sorts the materials, then turns them into new products, keeping them out of landfill.

With the boxes starting at $189 (which includes return shipping and processing of materials), we concede it could be viewed as a little exxy. However, it’s not a bad investment if you use a lot of disposable gloves or masks, or work for a business that requires you to wear them (ask management about ordering a box). You can also order an All-In-One Zero Waste Box, which lets you recycle a huge amount of products together, in addition to PPE.

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