Waste management company Veolia has launched a service for the collection and treatment of personal protective equipment (PPE) during the coronavirus pandemic.
Designed to maintain health and safety requirements and developed by redesigning existing operations, Veolia says the service will accommodate the growing quantities of gloves, safety goggles, masks, overalls, clothes and textiles, and hard hats used during the pandemic.
The company says it can now provide a “safe and compliant” service and the material will be processed through its network of 10 energy from waste facilities.
Richard Kirkman, Veolia’s head of Covid-19 response and chief technology and innovation officer, said: “During periods of uncertainty it is important for businesses to innovate to accommodate the fast-changing needs of customers.
“By adapting our services we’ve done just that, and we can now provide a safe and compliant way of treating the unprecedented amount of discarded PPE.
“Using energy recovery facilities means we also generate useful electricity and heat and save carbon emissions, which helps make the service more sustainable.”
Veolia says the service is particularly targeted at remote workers who travel from customer site to customer site without returning to a central location.
“We can now provide a safe and compliant way of treating the unprecedented amount of discarded PPE”
Disposal needs are met daily by collecting the discarded items from workers’ home using dedicated boxes, the company says.
The process includes double-bagged storage for 72 hours at a secure location, followed by collection and transport to a treatment facility.
Veolia says the whole process is managed by a specialist team supported by its dedicated helpdesk facility.
PPE has been described by multiple sources as essential to preventing the spread of the virus.
With some workforces now required to wear special coronavirus-related safety equipment, Veolia suggests an engineering team of 200 could need collection and treatment services for 2000 pieces of PPE each week.
On 6 May guidance issued by the Waste Industry Safety and Health Forum stated that should recycling plant operators notice significant amounts of used PPE appearing on picking lines and similar they should discuss the issue with their client (see letsrecycle.com story).
The week before the guidance was issued the Confederation of Paper Industries described reports of PPE turning up in household recycling as “disturbing” (see letsrecycle.com story).