Living Green: Recycling efforts up during pandemic, but PPE is not recyclable

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — An overwhelming surge of disposable masks and gloves are showing up in the recycling stream of waste and it’s causing problems.

PPE is not recyclable and it’s causing issues for Republic Services’ recycling plant and its employees.

“As we are processing material, we’re trying to sort through the good recyclables – the bottles, the cans, the jugs, the paper — and if the flexible materials start to wrap and tangle around the equipment, the equipment can jam or become less efficient and inhibits us from doing the proper sorting,” said Jeremy Walters, Republic Services.

He said paper masks and latex gloves that locals think should be recycled are actually hazardous.

“Those rigid plastic jugs, bottles, and containers are in fact recyclable. But again, the gloves, the masks, the wipes themselves are not. They are used, so they potentially have germs on them, so make sure they are tied up and tossed in the trash can so nobody has to come into contact with them is the best thing you can do,” he said. 

Walters also said the amount of overall garbage has increased due to the disposable personal protective equipment. He suggests wearing reusable and washable cloth masks.

Republic Services has seen an increase of recycling efforts by residents during the pandemic and applauds those efforts.

“There’s never a wrong time to start recycling and start recycling right,” he said. “It is very important for us to know what we can recycle, what we can’t recycle, and some of those things that are good for recycling, some of them do need a little preparation before you put them in the recycling bin.”

He said about 30% of what normally comes into the recycling facility is contaminated with garbage that can’t be recycled. You can get more information on what products are recyclable at this link.

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