The town where you can recycle face masks and lateral flow tests

  • Watch Marina Jenkins' report

Yate is the only town in the South West where residents can recycle face masks and lateral flow tests.

The local town council has partnered with company ReWorked to provide recycling facilities for personal protective equipment (PPE) and Covid tests.

In Yate, there are two drop-off points at Poole Court and Armadillo Cafe and the scheme has proved to be very popular.

Carene Whiting-Hays, who runs the cafe, said: "The uptake has been really really good so far. Lots of people are aware that it's here.

"We've got a senior community cinema that takes place on a Thursday, so when they leave they're able to drop their used face masks in the bin. It's proved to be really really useful."

In Yate, there are two recycling points at Poole Court and Armadillo Cafe. Credit: West Country

In 2020, legal restrictions meant PPE became part of our daily lives. Leah Collier, the community projects manager for Yate Town Council, said this also created a new kind of waste. Local council do not have the facilities to recycle PPE and lateral flow tests.

Leah tried to find a sustainable way to manage Yate's new type of waste and got in touch with ReWorked. She said: "We feel incredibly proud that we are the only council in the South West doing this.

"But we also feel very concerned because it wasn't a difficult process for us to put in place. It was far more expensive to have general waste collected in order to respond to PPE. So for us, it's incredibly important to get others on board."

ReWorked's campaign is called #ReclaimTheMask and it is the first scheme of its kind in the UK. So far, eight million single-use masks have been recycled.

At Reworked, the waste is shredded and then turned into building material. Credit: ReWorked

The boxes are collected from various drop-off points around the country and transported to the ReWorked hub in Hull.

The waste is quarantined, then shredded, melted down and flattened into building materials.

Shona Stephenson, from the ReWorked team, said: "We can make furniture, we can make shop fittings. We can do hoarding systems. Garden equipment, play equipment. Literally more or less anything really.

"It replaces the need for things like wood or virgin plastic material."

ReWorked has recycled more than eight million single-use face masks. Credit: ReWorked

Reworked has already partnered with many big businesses, such as Boots and The Body Shop to recycle cosmetics. It works with supermarkets, like Wilkos, to recycle face masks.

The team also partners with many smaller businesses and individuals who purchase the recycling box directly from its website.

Although a number of councils are using the boxes, Yate is the only one in the South West taking part.

ReWorked hopes more businesses and councils will sign up.