The inability to recycle disposable face masks is causing an environmental waste management issue in a growing number of countries. (Contributed)

No recycling option for disposable face masks in Central Okanagan

Waste disposal of masks becoming environmental concern globally, but not yet in the Okanagan

A growing global environmental crisis about how to deal with disposable face masks has not yet reached B.C., according to recycling officials.

Both the Regional District of Central Okanagan (RDCO) and Recycle BC said the issue has not yet shown up on their radars when contacted by Black Press Media.

Last week, media reports emerged in the UK of the public throwing away 53 million masks each day.

The huge number of face masks being put into a bin or dropped on the street is raising concerns about the number of which might be leaking into rivers and the sea, said Charlotte Green, with the waste company

“If you walk around any street now you will see disposable face masks being blown around with leaves in the gutter – they are the new cigarette butt – people are chucking them after use,” Green said.

“We know that 53 million are being sent to the landfill each day – but just how many ends up elsewhere is the very scary part.”

READ MORE: Canadian forestry develops biodegradable mask filter

READ MORE: Manufacturers scramble to meet face mask demand

Green said disposable masks contain ear loops and metal pieces used to grip the nose which was often intact when masks are discarded, raising fears they could become entangled around animals and wildlife, especially when they end up in watercourses.

Rae Stewart, waste reduction facilitator for RDCO, said there are no Central Okanagan recycling options for disposable face masks at this time.

While the public is advised to dispose of those masks in the garbage destined for the landfill and not the recycle carts, Stewart said reusable cloth masks would be a preferred option from their perspective – readily available, reusable, cost-effective, sustainable and customizable.

“Disposable masks have their place, but not for everyday use/wear,” Stewart said.

David Lefebvre, director, public affairs west for Recycle BC, echoed Stewart’s sentiments, saying disposable masks are not accepted in their recycling program.

“We are not mandated to collect them and they present a health and safety concern for collection and processing staff who must remove them,” said Lefebvre.

“As far as recycling options, we have not come across any of note.”


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The southern mountain caribou, an iconic species for the Splatsin First Nation, is threatened with extinction, much to the dismay of the First Nation. (Province of B.C. photo)
Splatsin First Nation concerned over dwindling caribou herd

Southern mountain caribou at risk of extinction, will struggle to recover without habitat protection and restoration action - report

FILE - In this April 19, 2021, file photo, Keidy Ventura, 17, receives her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in West New York, N.J. States across the country are dramatically scaling back their COVID-19 vaccine orders as interest in the shots wanes, putting the goal of herd immunity further out of reach. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
5 more deaths, 131 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

Those 18-years and older in high-transmission neighbourhoods can register for the vaccine

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
UPDATE: Winfield road open following police, coroner investigation

Pelmewash Parkway closure near Highway 97 connection

Danny Fulton receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Coast Capri Hotel on April 27. The pop-up clinic was hosted by the First Nations Health Authority. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
All adults in Rutland, Summerland now eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccine

Province expands age range to 18+ for vaccinations in ‘high transmission’ areas

A discarded blue surgical mask is shown hanging in a bush in Montreal, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020. (Graham Hughes - The Canadian Press)
Maskless man involved in altercation at Vernon store

RCMP says investigation is ongoing after alleged assault

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Kelowna resident Sally Wallick helped rescue a kayaker in distress a week and a half ago. (Sally Wallick/Contributed)
VIDEO: Kelowna woman rescues capsized kayaker in Okanagan Lake

Sally Wallick is asking people to be prepared for the cold water and unpredictable winds

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add six seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation wants ‘massive change’ after its 3rd police shooting in less than a year

Nuu-chah-nulth woman recovering from gunshot wounds in weekend incident near Ucluelet

RCMP (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
High-risk takedown on Highway 1 following Shuswap shooting

Upon further investigation, the vehicle and its occupants were not associated with the shooting

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Most Read