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Newbury one of 150 Wilko stores participating in face mask recycling scheme to be extended to end of December

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An instore scheme to help Wilko customers recycle their masks has proved so successful that the home and garden retailer will further extend it until the end of the year.

The scheme, which allows shoppers to drop off used, disposable face masks so that they can be recycled, will now be in place until the end of December 2021. This further extension of the scheme, following an initial three-month pilot in April, sees the service remain in place at the retailer’s original 150 participating stores.

Wilko estimates that a huge 400,000 masks could be recycled via the scheme, which equates to a giant 966kg of single use plastic.

wilko face mask recycling scheme
wilko face mask recycling scheme

Those wishing to take part need to visit the Newbury Wilko store and safely drop their used single use face masks into the special collection bin. Once full, these bins are then taken away by recycling specialists ReWorked, who together with Metrisk Ltd, Scan2Recycle are partnering with Wilko in the scheme – which was the first of its kind on the UK high street.

Masks collected via the scheme are broken down into raw fibres which can be sustainably refashioned into products ranging from other safety materials for businesses, to building materials and even quality, durable public space furniture.

While masks are no longer a legal requirement, Wilko is still recommending face coverings for team members and customers in busy indoor spaces. The family retailer seeks to respect individual choices while providing a sustainable solution to single-use mask disposal.

The Wilko Face Mask Recycling Scheme has also been positively recognised by the Corporate Engagement Awards, which has shortlisted the project in its Best Environmental and Sustainability Campaign category.

The Covid-19 crisis overall has seen a huge increase in the use of disposable face masks.

While the Government has encouraged Brits to dispose of face masks via general waste bins, there has been an ever-increasing volume of PPE being discarded in public spaces – meaning there are often greater levels of litter nationwide in areas such as parks, beaches, and high streets, impacting the life and leisure time of local communities, endangering wildlife, and ultimately harming the health of the planet.

Disposable face masks are made from polypropylene fabric – a type of plastic. An estimated eight million tons of general plastic waste already ends up in the world’s oceans every year, and the impact of the pandemic will only increase those figures if PPE litter continues to increase.

Wilko chief executive Jerome Saint Marc said: “We know that our customers care about the environment and this scheme has proved again to us just how much. We’re so delighted that it’s been this much of a success and that our customers and team members are helping to reduce litter in their communities, our partners are helping to recycle the waste and that we’re able to bring it all together in our stores. It’s a little win that truly makes a world of difference.”

For more information on disposable mask recycling at Wilko and for a full list of the 150 stores that are taking part, visit www.wilko.com/face-mask-recycling

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