Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

How to dispose of facemasks and other PPE?

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

How to dispose of facemasks and other PPE?

As of 12th August 2020:

The Scottish Government recently announced that people aged 5 years and over must wear a face covering on public transport, in public transport premises (e.g. train stations and airports) and shops. There are some exemptions to this requirement; further information can be found on the Scottish Government website.

In Northern Ireland, people aged 13 and over must wear a face covering on public transport. There are some exemptions to this requirement; further information can be found on the Northern Ireland department of Health.

After each use, you must wash the face-covering at 60 degrees centigrade (if reusable) or dispose of it safely.

Your job may also require additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like gloves and eye protection. Workplaces should continue to use any PPE required as per local policies (business as usual) to mitigate against non-COVID-19 risks in their setting.

Facemasks and PPE should be disposed of in the correct bin and with the appropriate procedure followed. Please note that they should not be put in a recycle bin. Some regulations may apply on how to dispose of your equipment – some of which may have changed due to COVID 19:

In healthcare settings

Remove and discard PPE as clinical waste as per your local policy.

For more information, read our guidance on Clinical Waste

In social, community and residential care settings

If the facility has a clinical waste contract, all waste belonging to the affected individual can be placed in the clinical waste and disposed of immediately. There is no need to hold waste for 72 hours where a clinical waste stream is available.

If the facility does not have a clinical waste contract, ensure all waste items that have been in contact with the individual (e.g. used tissues and disposable cleaning cloths) are disposed of securely within disposable bags. When full, the plastic bag should then be placed in a second bin bag and tied. These bags should be stored in a secure location for 72 hours before being put out for collection.”

If working with Asbestos - 

If you have any personal protective equipment (PPE) that is contaminated with asbestos, you must dispose of it as asbestos waste or clean it at a suitably equipped facility. You must deal with this waste as hazardous/special waste.

For more information, read our guidance on disposing of Asbestos waste.

For all other - 

If the PPE has been in contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus, then it should be double-bagged and left for 72 hours (3 days) before being put into the normal waste.

If the PPE has not been in contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus, then it can go into the normal waste after being double-bagged.

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