In the past year, face masks have become a very prominent element of our daily fashion choices. Thanks to COVID-19 and the pandemic it brought with its arrival, face masks are now a requirement when venturing out into public places across the globe.
While face masks and their purpose has been made known, one downfall from their use is the amount of waste they are contributing to, specifically one-use masks. Many of us make use of reusable ones, which is certainly the more environmentally-friendly route when it comes to wearing masks, but for those of us in the medical profession or other high-risk jobs, masks may have to be disposed of after one use, regardless of the waste implications this may cause.
There is some good news to share on the topic, however, explains an article from The Good News Network.
“A team of researchers in Melbourne, Australia, have discovered that adding millions of discarded face masks to road-paving mixtures lowered the environmental impact of the masks, and the cost of the road.
“Just one kilometer of road would need three million masks, and the polypropylene plastic used to make single-use surgical face masks actually increased the flexibility and durability of the road.
“Almost immediately, the idea of seven billion people going through a few masks a week as the pandemic got rolling started ringing alarm bells, and most people at this point will have noticed the dearth of discarded masks on roadsides and in garbage cans.
“Jie Li and the team developed a new composite road-building material that is a mixture of about 2% shredded masks, with recycled concrete aggregate (RCA)—a material derived from waste concrete and other minerals from demolished buildings.
“This ultra-recycled material was found in the study to be ideal for two of the four layers generally used to create roadways. Furthermore, paving merely a kilometer of two-way road with the RCA would require three million face masks, resulting in a rerouting of 93 tons of waste from landfills,” the article says.
How amazing is this innovative concept?