Recycling Used Face Masks To Make Roads Can Reduce 93 Tons Of Waste Per Year

Dhir Acharya - Feb 04, 2021


Recycling Used Face Masks To Make Roads Can Reduce 93 Tons Of Waste Per Year

Recycled face masks are mixed with recycled concrete aggregate to form a road-building material, which will reduce the amount of waste dumped in landfills.

In 2020 only, there were 1.56 billion single-use face masks ending up in the ocean and the number will likely go up this year. Not just the oceans but landfills are also suffering from an excessive amount of discarded face masks.

face masks
1.65 billion face masks were discarded in the ocean in 2020

However, researchers from RMIT University in Australia have a solution to recycle these masks into road materials, which will help minimize wastage.

The researchers mixed shredded masks with processed building rubble to form their road-making material. Even better, the material met civil engineering safety standards.

face masks
They were also dumped in landfills

With three million masks, the resulting material can be used to pave under 1 km of a two-lane highway, which could help us avoid 93 tons of waste from being dumped in landfills. According to the researchers, every day, the world uses about 6.8 billion single-use face masks, so the recycling system will significantly reduce the amount of waste in landfills.

The research team focused on recycled concrete aggregate (RCA) for the study because it can serve as a base layer for roads. They found that the shredded masks enhanced the material and solved the issue of overloaded landfills.

face masks
They are recycled into road-building material

For the best result, the mixture should contain 1% shredded masks and 99% RCA. The team pointed out that the mix delivered strength but still kept cohesion between these two materials. When tested for stress, water resistances, caid, dynamic properties, and deformation, the material met every civil engineering requirement.

It’s worth noting that the study was conducted on unused surgical face masks, the researchers said that they need further tests to find ways to properly disinfect and sterilize face masks before recycling them.

>>> The Earth Is At Its Hottest It Has Ever Been In At Least 12,000 Years

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