The plastic in the masks could become a biofuel

The plastic in the masks could become a biofuel

Billions of face masks (as well as gloves and other protective equipment) ended up in unsorted, non-recyclable waste

(photo: Patcharanan Worrapatchareeroj via Getty Images) What do we do with the billions of masks used across the country world? It is a question that perhaps we asked ourselves, during the Covid-19 epidemic, when it was time to throw them away. Masks, gloves and other devices are all plastic objects that must be disposed of in the undifferentiated way, as the Higher Institute of Health points out (and possibly placed in bags before being thrown away), so they end up in non-recyclable waste. But today a study published in the Biofuels journal of the Taylor & Francis group highlights that the plastic contained in the masks could be converted and reused to produce biofuel. Leading the research is a group from the University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, India, explaining how this conversion could take place.

Billions of masks in the environment

Currently the attention is focused on how to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, but we must not forget the environment and climate change as well. From the beginning of the coronavirus emergency to date billions of masks have been worn (in Italy about a billion in a month, according to a study), which can become a further threat to the environment, as the researchers point out. Plastic materials end up in landfills or oceans and it takes decades for them to decompose, as their natural degradation.

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