Disposable masks are becoming the new pollution scourge, Source: Depositphotos

Used masks will become street furniture in Sintra

Used masks will become street furniture in Sintra

It was high time to do something about the new pollution scourge of our era

The Municipal Water and Sanitation Services of Sintra (SMAS Sintra), in Portugal, will lead a pilot project, together with other entities, that will see the transformation of disposable masks into urban furniture. The project is called Recycling and Valorization Project of Masks and Textile, and it aims to demonstrate to the public the need and possibility to rethink the ‘disposability’ side of items, such as masks and clothing.

SMAS Sintra is partnering with the app for the reduction of textile waste ‘To Be Green’ in promoting awareness of circularity. The project also includes a section that will establish a donation store for textiles that are still in good condition and can be reused.

A mask takes 300-400 years to disintegrate

Precipitated by the Covid-19 pandemic, the scourge of disposable masks that end up on the ground or in unsorted waste containers is the new environmental problem that we now have on our hands. A mask takes 300 to 400 years to decompose, and it is for this environmental impact that the Sintra project decided to seek a solution.

The project sees disposable masks as an opportunity thanks to the recycling process in storage centres installed in buildings rehabilitated for this purpose. Crushing and compressing the masks creates a polymer that is a resistant, durable plastic suitable for any type of use.

For example, it can be molded to create street furniture – garden tables and benches, pillars, vases, and signposts. In addition, other materials, such as objects for the dissemination and promotion of Sintra, drawing moulds and plastic symbols can also be made.

The initiative has two aspects: on the one hand, it aims to avoid and reduce the disposal of masks in landfills or the incineration of masks, by promoting both awareness of the correct disposal and repurposing possibilities.

On the other hand, it seeks to promote the conscious consumption of textiles and their respective reuse in a circular logic, also taking a step towards compliance with the selective collection of textiles, which will become mandatory in European countries from 2025 onwards.



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