Eliminate Single-Use Masks2021-04-28T06:22:41-04:00

Eliminate Single-use Masks

Single-use has become a societal norm. Everything from our food and drinks to our cleaning supplies – and these days even our masks – is designed to be used once and discarded. The reason for this is without a doubt convenience. The question is: while convenient now, how will our single-use obsession influence the environment now and in the future? Do we ever stop to consider where the soda bottle or more relevant today, the masks we discard end up?

Let’s imagine for a second that we wore single-use clothes every day and at the end of the day we would discard our day’s clothes on the floor of our room, just to wear a new set of clothes the next day. How long would it take for the floor to be covered under discarded clothes?

The same principle applies to single-use masks, each one you discard ends up somewhere, it might not be in your room but it might just end up in the ocean, river, or worse strangling an animal or getting ingested by an animal. The single-use masks that we discard every day are worsening the problem. Something has to change.

The distinction between a reusable mask and a single-use mask is as the words indicate the design with regards to reusability. Reusable masks are designed to be worn, disinfected, and worn again whereas single-use masks are designed to be used once and thereafter discarded.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the production and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks have increased dramatically. It is estimated that the UK could be sending approximately as many as 54 million single-use masks to the landfill every single day. To put this in perspective you can imagine the single-use masks used in less than 2 days across the UK are enough to cover the whole of London. Another way of looking at this enormous amount of plastic waste is imagining that in one day the UK discards single-use masks equivalent to the weight of 100 cars. [1]

While PPE is indispensable in the fight against COVID-19, the improper disposal of single-use plastic PPE is now posing a huge environmental risk to the planet. The improper disposal has been a result of a combination of things such as composition and risk of contamination and infection. [2] Whether we want to believe it or not face mask will most likely be part of our daily lives for the foreseeable future, which is why eliminating single-use masks and choosing a reusable mask is not only sensible for the environment but also when considering costs.

Single-use has become a societal norm. Everything from our food and drinks to our cleaning supplies – and these days even our masks – is designed to be used once and discarded. The reason for this is without a doubt convenience. The question is: while convenient now, how will our single-use obsession influence the environment now and in the future? Do we ever stop to consider where the soda bottle or more relevant today, the masks we discard end up?

Let’s imagine for a second that we wore single-use clothes every day and at the end of the day we would discard our day’s clothes on the floor of our room, just to wear a new set of clothes the next day. How long would it take for the floor to be covered under discarded clothes?

The same principle applies to single-use masks, each one you discard ends up somewhere, it might not be in your room but it might just end up in the ocean, river, or worse strangling an animal or getting ingested by an animal. The single-use masks that we discard every day are worsening the problem. Something has to change.

The distinction between a reusable mask and a single-use mask is as the words indicate the design with regards to reusability. Reusable masks are designed to be worn, disinfected, and worn again whereas single-use masks are designed to be used once and thereafter discarded.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the production and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks have increased dramatically. It is estimated that the UK could be sending approximately as many as 54 million single-use masks to the landfill every single day. To put this in perspective you can imagine the single-use masks used in less than 2 days across the UK are enough to cover the whole of London. Another way of looking at this enormous amount of plastic waste is imagining that in one day the UK discards single-use masks equivalent to the weight of 100 cars. [1]

While PPE is indispensable in the fight against COVID-19, the improper disposal of single-use plastic PPE is now posing a huge environmental risk to the planet. The improper disposal has been a result of a combination of things such as composition and risk of contamination and infection. [2] Whether we want to believe it or not face mask will most likely be part of our daily lives for the foreseeable future, which is why eliminating single-use masks and choosing a reusable mask is not only sensible for the environment but also when considering costs.


Environmental Effect


Environmental Effect

The research on COVID-19 waste and the effects thereof on the environment is shocking, to say the least. Single-use masks are made with plastics that can technically be recycled but the composition and possible contamination with saliva or nasal discharge make recycling impractical. Secondary infection from disposed of masks is probable due to the fact that the Coronavirus can stay on the surface of the mask anywhere between 24 hours up to 7 days. Since recycling is not an option these single-use masks are treated as general waste and therefore discarded in landfills. Due to the composition of these single- masks, it can take up to 450 years to decompose. [2]

Another problem associated with tonnes of single-use masks in landfills is the danger to wildlife. Since the beginning of the lockdown, one of the rescue organizations in the UK has rescued more than 900 animals caught in litter such as disposable masks. Not only is the disposal of single-use masks a treat to wildlife getting caught or tangled but we should also consider the amount of wildlife that ingests this waste. [3, 4]

Single-use masks are also ending up in oceans, most likely through severs and rivers. The accumulation of masks in the oceans threatens other types of wildlife. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, it was estimated that annually between 8 and 12 million tonnes of plastic waste entered the ocean from land. This resulted in 100 000 marine mammals and turtles, over a million seabirds, and even more fish and other marine life being killed every year. Sadly with the rise in plastic pollution from COVID-19 waste these statistics are expected to rise. The reasons why marine life is in danger is because of either entanglement in the masks or because the fish, dolphins, turtles, etc. see the masks as a food source which results in a blocked digestive tract and in turn leads to starvation. At the current rate of single-use mask disposal, we are threatening marine ecosystems and harming marine life. [2]

The research on COVID-19 waste and the effects thereof on the environment is shocking, to say the least. Single-use masks are made with plastics that can technically be recycled but the composition and possible contamination with saliva or nasal discharge make recycling impractical. Secondary infection from disposed of masks is probable due to the fact that the Coronavirus can stay on the surface of the mask anywhere between 24 hours up to 7 days. Since recycling is not an option these single-use masks are treated as general waste and therefore discarded in landfills. Due to the composition of these single- masks, it can take up to 450 years to decompose. [2]

Another problem associated with tonnes of single-use masks in landfills is the danger to wildlife. Since the beginning of the lockdown, one of the rescue organizations in the UK has rescued more than 900 animals caught in litter such as disposable masks. Not only is the disposal of single-use masks a treat to wildlife getting caught or tangled but we should also consider the amount of wildlife that ingests this waste. [3, 4]

Single-use masks are also ending up in oceans, most likely through severs and rivers. The accumulation of masks in the oceans threatens other types of wildlife. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, it was estimated that annually between 8 and 12 million tonnes of plastic waste entered the ocean from land. This resulted in 100 000 marine mammals and turtles, over a million seabirds, and even more fish and other marine life being killed every year. Sadly with the rise in plastic pollution from COVID-19 waste these statistics are expected to rise. The reasons why marine life is in danger is because of either entanglement in the masks or because the fish, dolphins, turtles, etc. see the masks as a food source which results in a blocked digestive tract and in turn leads to starvation. At the current rate of single-use mask disposal, we are threatening marine ecosystems and harming marine life. [2]


Logistics

According to the Center for Global Development in June 2020, the estimated statistics for 24 countries in Africa were as follows: 

Total PPE needed annually: 448,300,000

Total Surgical Masks needed annually: 213,000,000

Total CHWs [5]: 916,232

Total PPE delivered/ committed (by CAF for Africa, 1 Jan 2021) [6] : 57,050,340

This means that up to the time these statistics were published only 12.7% of total PPE needs were met in those 24 countries. Perspectively this means either only 12.7% of the CHWs received adequate amounts of PPE which would be 116,361.5 of the 916,232 or all the CHWs received inadequate amounts of PPE. This might look like CHWs wearing the same surgical mask, which was designed for single-use, for 5 to 6 days in a row

One of the biggest problems associated with PPE distribution in African countries is logistics. Unfortunately, the rural countries in Africa have problems that contribute to increased logistical costs such as terrain (rivers, dense forests), shortages in storage space, shortages in transportation capacity, distances between CHWs and healthcare facilities to only name a few. [7] These contributing factors radically increase the difficulty of the last mile distribution and therefore increases logistical costs. 


Using the Rethink Reusable Surgical Masks reduces PPE logistics volumes by 90%. The reason for this is single-use masks are notoriously bulky and require a lot of space for shipping and storage. The Rethink Face Mask Filters can be used 10 times each which means less space is needed for shipping, transportation, and storage. As result, you will need 1 container of Rethink Face Mask Filters compared to 8 containers of single-use face masks.

According to the Center for Global Development in June 2020, the estimated statistics for 24 countries in Africa were as follows: 

Total PPE needed annually: 448,300,000

Total Surgical Masks needed annually: 213,000,000

Total CHWs [5]: 916,232

Total PPE delivered/ committed (by CAF for Africa, 1 Jan 2021) [6] : 57,050,340

This means that up to the time these statistics were published only 12.7% of total PPE needs were met in those 24 countries. Perspectively this means either only 12.7% of the CHWs received adequate amounts of PPE which would be 116,361.5 of the 916,232 or all the CHWs received inadequate amounts of PPE. This might look like CHWs wearing the same surgical mask, which was designed for single-use, for 5 to 6 days in a row

One of the biggest problems associated with PPE distribution in African countries is logistics. Unfortunately, the rural countries in Africa have problems that contribute to increased logistical costs such as terrain (rivers, dense forests), shortages in storage space, shortages in transportation capacity, distances between CHWs and healthcare facilities to only name a few. [7] These contributing factors radically increase the difficulty of the last mile distribution and therefore increases logistical costs. 


Using the Rethink Reusable Surgical Masks reduces PPE logistics volumes by 90%. The reason for this is single-use masks are notoriously bulky and require a lot of space for shipping and storage. The Rethink Face Mask Filters can be used 10 times each which means less space is needed for shipping, transportation, and storage. As result, you will need 1 container of Rethink Face Mask Filters compared to 8 containers of single-use face masks.

References

[1] Environment Journal. UK sending 1.6 billion face masks to landfill every month. https://environmentjournal.online/articles/uk-sending-1-6-billion-face-masks-to-landfill-every-month/

[2] Phelps Bondaroff, Teale, and Cooke, Sam. (2020, December). “Masks on the Beach: The impact of COVID-19 on marine plastic pollution.” OceansAsia https://oceansasia.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Marine-Plastic-Pollution-FINAL.pdf

[3] Green Peace. Single-use face masks are hurting wildlife – here’s what you can do about it. https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/news/single-use-face-masks-hurting-wildlife-what-you-can-do/

[4] RSPCA. ‘Snip the straps’ off face masks as Great British September Clean launches. https://www.rspca.org.uk/-/news-face-masks-spring-clean

[5] Center for Global Development. Protecting Community Health Workers – PPE needs and recommendations for policy action. https://www.cgdev.org/sites/default/files/protecting-community-health-workers-ppe-needs-and-recommendations-policy-action.pdf

[6] COVID-19 Action Fund for Africa. Progress Map. https://cafafrica.org/progress-map/

[7] COVID-19 Action Fund for Africa. CNBC Africa: This initiative seeks to empower community health workers against COVID-19. https://cafafrica.org/2021/01/15/cnbc-africa-this-initiative-seeks-to-empower-community-health-workers-in-fight-against-covid-19/

Join so many others

We are here to help you Rethink your face mask needs!

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South Africa: +27-21-203-0028
South Africa: +27-87-095-3232
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Join so many others

We are here to help you Rethink your face mask needs!

Call Us Now!

South Africa: +27-21-203-0028
South Africa: +27-87-095-3232
Request a quote

FAQ’s ON FILTERS

So, I can save money on logistics?2020-11-27T04:41:58-05:00

In Addition to improved safety and convenience, reusable masks provide additional benefits such as:

  • The number of masks that need to be sourced is reduced by 90%, since every filter replaces 9 out of 10 single-use masks.
  • The reduced volume of masks simplifies the logistics of getting them to their intended users.

  • Each nanofiber filter avoids the use of 9 single-use masks, thereby drastically reducing the amount of waste that needs to be disposed of.

  • The nanofiber filters and compatible masks can be disinfected at home by submerging in boiling hot water, so no special equipment or additional chemical disinfectants are needed.
Can the filters be used in any mask?2021-03-26T04:31:28-04:00

Yes, Rethink Reusable Surgical Mask Filters can be used in any compatible face mask with a suitable filter pocket.

The Rethink cloth mask is designed with a filter pocket that works very well with the Rethink Reusable Surgical Mask Filter. The filters can be bought separately.

Can the filter be re-used?2021-03-26T04:32:49-04:00

After the initial use, the Rethink Reusable Surgical Mask Filter can be disinfected with boiling hot water and reused 9 times. This is a significant differentiator from the filter media used in traditional single-use masks. Numerous systematic studies* on the extended use, re-use, or reprocessing of single-use medical masks have shown that extended use and re-use of single-use medical masks leads to diminished performance.

*Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine. “Extended use or re-use of single-use surgical masks and filtering facepiece respirators: A rapid evidence review.

Filter specifications?2020-11-26T15:32:47-05:00

The nanofiber filter layer ensures that the mask has a particle (PFE) and bacterial filtration efficiency (BFE) greater than 95%, whilst keeping the breathability very high (< 40 Pa/cm²), in line with European standard EN 14683.

What does the filter consist of?2020-11-26T15:33:55-05:00

It consists of a filtering layer of tiny PVDF nanofibers with diameters smaller than 155 nanometers. This layer is created through a process called electrospinning with SNC’s patented high-throughput ball-electrospinning technology (SNC BEST®).

FAQ’s ON MASKS

Why are single-use masks bad for the environment?2020-11-27T04:40:39-05:00

It is estimated that 129 billion* single-use face masks are being used per month in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. This mind-boggling volume of single-use masks poses an extraordinary risk to the environment. Landfills and oceans already bear evidence of the crisis on hand.

Can I wash the mask?2020-11-26T16:43:05-05:00

The cloth masks are machine washable and can be disinfected with boiling hot water. The cloth masks are made from a durable polyester warp knit fabric which is quick-drying, to ensure the user can continue to use the mask soon after washing.

Does the mask have a nose piece?2020-11-27T05:56:53-05:00

The Rethink compatible cloth mask designs have a wire nose piece to ensure optimal conformance to the wearer’s face and have been extensively field-tested and refined to ensure maximum user comfort.

Optional fabric finishes?2020-11-26T14:33:43-05:00

Masks also come with optional fabric finishes for water repellency, flame retardancy, and antiviral and antibacterial activity.

Does the mask come with ear loops or ties?2020-11-26T14:35:21-05:00

Different mask designs, using ear loops or ties, and different sizes, ensure that masks can be selected for different face shapes and use scenarios.

AS MENTIONED IN

FAQ’s ON FILTERS

So, I can save money on logistics?2020-11-27T04:41:58-05:00

In Addition to improved safety and convenience, reusable masks provide additional benefits such as:

  • The number of masks that need to be sourced is reduced by 90%, since every filter replaces 9 out of 10 single-use masks.
  • The reduced volume of masks simplifies the logistics of getting them to their intended users.

  • Each nanofiber filter avoids the use of 9 single-use masks, thereby drastically reducing the amount of waste that needs to be disposed of.

  • The nanofiber filters and compatible masks can be disinfected at home by submerging in boiling hot water, so no special equipment or additional chemical disinfectants are needed.
Can the filters be used in any mask?2021-03-26T04:31:28-04:00

Yes, Rethink Reusable Surgical Mask Filters can be used in any compatible face mask with a suitable filter pocket.

The Rethink cloth mask is designed with a filter pocket that works very well with the Rethink Reusable Surgical Mask Filter. The filters can be bought separately.

Can the filter be re-used?2021-03-26T04:32:49-04:00

After the initial use, the Rethink Reusable Surgical Mask Filter can be disinfected with boiling hot water and reused 9 times. This is a significant differentiator from the filter media used in traditional single-use masks. Numerous systematic studies* on the extended use, re-use, or reprocessing of single-use medical masks have shown that extended use and re-use of single-use medical masks leads to diminished performance.

*Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine. “Extended use or re-use of single-use surgical masks and filtering facepiece respirators: A rapid evidence review.

Filter specifications?2020-11-26T15:32:47-05:00

The nanofiber filter layer ensures that the mask has a particle (PFE) and bacterial filtration efficiency (BFE) greater than 95%, whilst keeping the breathability very high (< 40 Pa/cm²), in line with European standard EN 14683.

What does the filter consist of?2020-11-26T15:33:55-05:00

It consists of a filtering layer of tiny PVDF nanofibers with diameters smaller than 155 nanometers. This layer is created through a process called electrospinning with SNC’s patented high-throughput ball-electrospinning technology (SNC BEST®).

FAQ’s ON MASKS

Why are single-use masks bad for the environment?2020-11-27T04:40:39-05:00

It is estimated that 129 billion* single-use face masks are being used per month in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. This mind-boggling volume of single-use masks poses an extraordinary risk to the environment. Landfills and oceans already bear evidence of the crisis on hand.

Can I wash the mask?2020-11-26T16:43:05-05:00

The cloth masks are machine washable and can be disinfected with boiling hot water. The cloth masks are made from a durable polyester warp knit fabric which is quick-drying, to ensure the user can continue to use the mask soon after washing.

Does the mask have a nose piece?2020-11-27T05:56:53-05:00

The Rethink compatible cloth mask designs have a wire nose piece to ensure optimal conformance to the wearer’s face and have been extensively field-tested and refined to ensure maximum user comfort.

Optional fabric finishes?2020-11-26T14:33:43-05:00

Masks also come with optional fabric finishes for water repellency, flame retardancy, and antiviral and antibacterial activity.

Does the mask come with ear loops or ties?2020-11-26T14:35:21-05:00

Different mask designs, using ear loops or ties, and different sizes, ensure that masks can be selected for different face shapes and use scenarios.

AS MENTIONED IN

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