A one-of-its-kind personal protective equipment (PPE) recycling program has arrived in Saskatchewan.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) has partnered with B.C.-based PPE manufacturer Vitacore Industries Inc. to run the project together with the Coordinated Accessible National (CAN) Health Network. They began the initiative at Saskatoon City Hospital with the goal of determining if it might probably be implemented across SHA facilities within the province.

The pilot project began in February 2022 and can end at the tip of may, when they may do an assessment to see in the event that they need to move forward with it on a more everlasting basis and in other facilities.

As we enter the third 12 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers estimate that we throw away around three million face masks globally every minute, surpassing plastic bags as considered one of the pressing environmental concerns today.

Mikhail Moore president of Vitacore said, “the recycling program was a research project we began early on within the pandemic keeping in mind we’re a PPE manufacturing project and we’re using a single use plastic product in a time after we’re attempting to limit the usage of single use project. So we recognized that there’s a huge amount of waste being produced with reference to masks particularly on this pandemic. That’s a large problem and we desired to see if we could make a difference.”

He added that essentially the most recent project with SHA (Saskatoon City Hospital) is considered one of their first large scale projects where they will a hospital and searching at this from a healthcare perspective which is de facto where a big percentage of this waste is coming from.

SHA said they’re potential options to recycle gloves, face shields, gowns as well. Over three months the project has diverted over 54,000 masks from the local landfill.

The project was first launched in British Columbia in February 2021. The recycling program is supposed to deal with sanitary concerns that prevent existing recycling initiatives in Canada from accepting medical PPE.

To this point, the entire program has collected 8.8. million masks and respirators and repurposed them into construction materials.

“As considered one of the biggest organizations in Saskatchewan contributing to the rise in PPE usage, we’ve got a responsibility to explore alternative routes of disposing our masks to limit the quantity of fabric ending up in our landfills,” Kerri Cryderman, executive director of environmental services for the SHA, said.

Used masks and respirators are disposed of in designated Vitacore Recycling Bins and brought to the recycling facility where masks are sanitized, sorted and shredded. The shredded pieces are then melted down and was pellets which are reused in construction materials, like concrete.

Moore said that Canada being a big country needs recycling strategically positioned inside Canada, quite a lot of recycling programs will collect after which they’ll travel very large distances or overseas and the issue is the green house gas emissions of doing which will sometimes outweigh the actual advantages themselves. “We took this from not from a recycling for the sake of recycling stance but really recycling for the sake of the environment.”

“Vitacore stays committed not only to providing the best quality PPE to Canadians, but in addition to facilitating a sustainable future. We’re thrilled to be working with the Saskatchewan Health Authority to bring Vitacore’s Recycling Program to facilities across the province, which can make a major impact in diverting waste from our landfills and reducing the environmental impact of single-use PPE,” Vitacore president Mikhail Moore said.

Dr. Susan Shaw, SHA chief medical officer and CAN Health Network board member, said the SHA is “excited to have a hand in changing the best way all of us take into consideration disposing PPE.”

“It can be crucial for us to concentrate on our impact on the environment and look for tactics by which we will partner with Canadian corporations using revolutionary techniques to scale back this impact,” Shaw said. “As a part of the CAN Health Network we’re capable of share this information nationally, impacting not only SHA but the entire country.”


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