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Face masks lead to recycling weighing 12 times as a heavy as a hippo being rejected in Cambridgeshire since July




Residents across Cambridgeshire are being urged to think about their rubbish recycling after it was revealed nearly 55 tonnes have been rejected because of mis-binned face masks and other PPE waste.

In fact since July 1, 12 recycling loads totalling 54.95 tonnes have been rejected across the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough area.

This contributed to the batches of recycling not being able to be re-reprocessed. All of this material is over seven and a half times the weight of an African elephant and over 12 times as heavy as a hippopotamus. This is recycling that would have otherwise gone on to become something else.

As Cambridgeshire and Peterborough continues to deal with the local impacts of Coronavirus – the county council says there are simple things we can all to do keep caring for the environment.

Keep caring for your environment urges Cambridgeshrie County Council. (40923859)
Keep caring for your environment urges Cambridgeshrie County Council. (40923859)

As part of the continuing ‘Keep Caring’ campaign which reminds residents that Coronavirus hasn’t gone away, the focus is shifting to include how we can all contribute to a greener ‘new normal’. We can all contribute to this.

With face masks now a common sight and mandatory in many locations, using a washable, re-usable face mask rather than lots of single use ones is much better for the environment. Masks that are designed to be used only once are destined to end-up in landfill or as litter, and as non-recyclable items they are likely to cause more landfill if not disposed of correctly.

Instead of using disposable face masks, it’s easy to make your own face covering at home using items you may have around the house. You can find out how to make your own face covering by following the steps on the Public Health England website. However if you do have to wear disposable, single-use PPE, make sure it goes in your general rubbish bin and not the recycling. They can’t be recycled.

Since 1 July, 12 recycling loads totalling 54.95 tonnes have been rejected across the Cambridgeshire, all of which contained medical or PPE waste. All of this material is over seven and a half times the weight of an African Elephant.
Since 1 July, 12 recycling loads totalling 54.95 tonnes have been rejected across the Cambridgeshire, all of which contained medical or PPE waste. All of this material is over seven and a half times the weight of an African Elephant.

Most residents across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough put time and effort into recycling the right things. However, it costs local councils money to remove incorrect items from recycling and can lead to bigger batches of recycling being rejected and ending up in landfill. Plus, it’s not nice for all the workers at the waste management park who help to sort the recycling before it’s sent on to re-processors.

Despite lockdown restrictions easing, most people have spent more time at home during the past few months. This means more household waste and recycling is being generated and needs to be dealt with. Residents can ensure they are supporting the campaign and doing their bit by putting the right stuff in the right bin. This helps the environment as it reduces the amount of waste sent to landfill. If you’re not sure about which bin something should go in, check on the website of your local District or City Council.

Councillor Peter Murphy, RECAP chairman, said: “Coronavirus hasn’t gone away so it remains incredibly important that we all keep caring and follow the rules – but we can ensure we’re looking after the environment at the same time. Use a re-usable face mask that you can wash is a much greener option than single-use versions. Putting the right stuff in the right bin is another way that residents can directly contribute to a greener environment. Recycling right, like most residents do, means we are using our waste as the useful resource that it is.”

Since 1 July, 12 recycling loads totalling 54.95 tonnes have been rejected across the Cambridgeshire, all of which contained medical or PPE waste. All of this material is over twelve times as heavy as a hippopotamus.
Since 1 July, 12 recycling loads totalling 54.95 tonnes have been rejected across the Cambridgeshire, all of which contained medical or PPE waste. All of this material is over twelve times as heavy as a hippopotamus.

The ‘Keep Caring’ campaign is led by Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council, and supported by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, Cambridgeshire Constabulary, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, East of England Ambulance Service, the local NHS, community organisations and local district councils. The campaign also highlights that:

Caring is keeping your distance - inside or outside

Caring is being responsible - staying isolated if you think you’ve got symptoms, or been close to someone who has

Caring is covering your face - even with no symptoms you might still spread virus

Caring is washing your hands - regularly, when you enter or leave a new place

It also points out that:

Caring is staying and buying local - to support local businesses and jobs

Caring is being considerate - rubbish destroys our countryside, and puts those who clear it up at risk



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