Masks have been a robust device within the struggle in opposition to the pandemic, however they’re additionally creating huge waste. Each minute, three million masks are used all over the world—or 129 billion every month—nearly all of that are single-use merchandise produced from plastic microfibers.
Since plastic masks can’t be recycled, they’ll find yourself clogging landfills the place they gained’t biodegrade however will break down into smaller and smaller plastic fragments that can find yourself in our waterways, harming each animals and people. However what if we used old masks to create helpful new merchandise? That’s the thought motivating the Italian artist and designer Tobia Zambotti, whose newest venture is a puffer jacketed stuffed with plastic face masks as insulation.
Zambotti realized that many of the disposable masks in the marketplace are produced from polypropylene, a plastic with thermo-regulating properties that’s typically used in polyfill, a standard stuffing in down jackets. Zambotti, who relies in Iceland, collected 1,500 mild blue masks that littered the streets of Reykjavík and disinfected them. “Despite the fact that COVID-19 particles can solely survive on masks for around seven days, I saved them in a sealed plastic bag for a month in a bid to make sure that there have been no traces left behind,” Zambotti writes in an e mail. “They had been additionally disinfected with ozone spray.”
Zambotti then collaborated with Aleksi Saastamoinen, a trend design pupil at Finland’s Aalto College, who reworked the recycled masks into stuffing for a jacket. They intentionally made the jacket’s outer later from an opaque, waterproof laminate materials, in order that the masks inside are seen. They’re calling the ultimate garment Coat-19.
Zambotti’s coat is conceptual, designed to focus on what he refers to as an “absurd pandemic-related environmental concern.” He’s amongst a number of designers desirous about potential makes use of for this waste. Korean designer Haneul Kim, as an example, melted down 1000’s of plastic masks, then dyed the melted plastic and used it to create furnishings. But when we’re to sort out the waste associated to the billions of disposable masks and gloves being thrown out within the face of the well being disaster, we’d like bigger scale concepts.
One promising resolution has emerged in France. An organization referred to as Plaxtil has developed a way to take plastic materials, grind them down, combine them with a binding substance and remodel them into a cloth—which they name Plaxtil—that may then be moulded into plastic for different merchandise, like face shields. Earlier than the pandemic, it specialised in recycling clothes, however in July 2020, it started completely specializing in recycling plastic face masks. It churns by about 50,000 masks a month, transforming them into more than 2,000 plastic products.