Cornwall-based social enterprise Waterhaul is leading the ‘Retask the Mask’ campaign to tackle the environmental impact. The crowdfunding campaign went live on Earth Day (April 22nd) and seeks to raise awareness of the dangerous levels of face masks pollution.

Statistics show that 58 million masks are used a day in the UK, making them one of the most common forms of plastic pollution with an estimated 1.5 billion already entering the ocean.

These figures are expected to grow and cause permanent damage, as mask usage is still required as a protective measure regarding Covid-19.

Waterhaul, a company that specialises in recycling plastic waste and fishing nets from the ocean, has trialled the project with Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS trust in order to get the mask waste needed to turn into their litter pickers.

The project is set to save the NHS Trust from paying £550 per tonne to send the masks to the incinerator.  Instead, Waterhaul will use a machine on site at the Hospital to melt down the masks into blocks, sterilising the material.

“This new wave of plastic PPE pollution is a very real threat,” said Harry Dennis, CEO at Waterhaul.

The Cornish company is aiming to turn the problem into part of a wider waste solution. Their goal is to inspire an environmental cleaning, globally and locally, by encouraging people to join their campaign. Also, by working with the NHS, they can intercept the plastic at the source before it goes to the landfill and create a circular economy.

Roz Davies, General Manager at The Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust, added: “The Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust has been clear that its vision is to create a circular economy and tackle the growing challenges of single use PPE.”

More information about the campaign, including how to support the project’s Kickstarter, are available at https://www.retaskthemask.com

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