Single-use mask being recycled



Waste Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is rapidly becoming one of the unforeseen side effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

With tonnes of plastic face masks, gloves and visors now being used to combat the threat of coronavirus, much of it is being sent to waste and landfill after it has been used – and having a major ongoing impact on the environment.

Now to help combat the problem KCOM has joined an innovative scheme to recycle all the single-use PPE used by its employees during their working days.

The East Yorkshire-based broadband provider has joined forces with recycling experts B&M Waste Services to take part in the scheme that will see used PPE cleaned and transformed into useful objects including homeware, garden furniture and construction material.

Mark Blenkinsop, KCOM’s head of CSR, said: “I’m delighted to be joining this scheme which will see all of our used plastic PPE recycled and turned into useful new products.

“As key workers our engineers have been out and about helping to build vital new broadband infrastructure since the start of the pandemic as well as visiting homes across the region to connect new customers, all while following strict health and safety guidelines. This means they generate a lot of waste PPE that must be disposed of safely.

“As a company that’s committed to sending zero waste to landfill, this scheme is another great way for us to do our bit for the environment and make sure our PPE doesn’t contribute to the mountain of PPE waste that’s one of the unfortunate side effects of the pandemic.”

The scheme will see KCOM engineers leave their used PPE in a safe recycling bin before it is collected and sorted at a nearby site in Hull.

The plastic material is washed and shredded into 5mm pieces before being mixed with other recycled plastics to a specific recipe.

It can then be used to create items such as durable stormboards for the building industry or patio sets for the garden.

Lucy Wilfan, of recycling partner B&M Waste Services, said: “It’s great to work with KCOM on a scheme that’s helping to tackle a major waste problem that no-one had thought about just a short time ago. It’s great to see KCOM reacting so quickly and hopefully initiatives like this will see the amount of PPE waste going to landfill or into the oceans cut dramatically.”

As well as recycling PPE, KCOM has initiated a series of other eco-friendly measures in recent years. These include introducing electric vans to its fleet of vehicles, reducing the reliance on mechanical cooling systems in equipment rooms and installing motion-activated LED lighting throughout offices.

The company is also investigating other ways of generating its own renewable energy using solar panels as part of its long-term sustainability strategy.

Most recently KCOM has urged local companies to take part in a major survey to find out how the region’s 30,000 small businesses are gearing up for the UK’s Green Recovery.

The survey is being run by the Aura Innovation Centre and the University of Hull and seeks to understand how the region’s businesses are preparing to ‘build back better’ after the twin challenges of Covid-19 and Brexit.

The survey, which takes just six minutes to complete, will discover how local firms are innovating and working towards meeting the 2050 Net Zero targets set by the UK Government on carbon emissions.

To take part in the survey visit