Resusing facemasks: Three students from the Fontys University of Applied Sciences in Eindhoven are researching on this. They are doing this at the request of DELA, the organisation that caters to funerals. DELA considers it undesirable the way the facemasks are thrown away and that nothing is done with the raw materials. The conclusion will come at the end of June.
Currently, we’re throwing away 129 billion facemasks every month. DELA also uses around 300,000 non-medical facemasks – partly washable – at funerals and personal care for the deceased. They use another 25,000 medical facemasks per year. In addition, the use of disposable products such as plastic gloves has increased greatly among funeral directors due to the government’s anti-corona measures. These products go into the residual waste. Then, they burn these in a waste-to-energy plant. They lose raw materials in this way.
And that is undesirable, according to DELA. The Eindhoven funeral home cooperative wants to be more sustainable. Reducing the waste is their goal. It is part of their policy too. DELA has therefore enlisted the help of students who are studying Circular Economy in Eindhoven. DELA hopes that the Fontys students will find a way to give the raw materials contained in the facemasks a second life. All options are open, including that of a new facemask.
Facemaks on the street
DELA also asked the students to help think about this problem for another reason. “Of course, we also see facemasks lying around in the streets. We cannot solve this problem, but we can share our knowledge about the reuse of facemasks with others. If, in doing so, we can leave the world a little bit better for current and future generations, then we’re happy to do so,” says Ilse van de Voort, CSR manager at DELA.
This was also the reason for the students to get to work on the assignment. “It would be best if we could find a solution that would benefit both DELA and society,” says Marlou Duchậteau, one of the researching students.
You may follow the progress of the Fontys students on DELA’s YouTube channel.
Translation: Chaitali Sengupta who also gives online INBURGERING classes.