What will we use to pave the road in the future? Could be the mask

In the past one year, in order to prevent the further spread of the virus, masks have become an essential item for people, also disposable gloves and other products have been used widely. Now you can not only find them in the streets and lanes but also in the natural environment and the ocean.

In September 2020, zoologists found a penguin corpse on the coast of Brazil. After the autopsy, they found that there was a complete N95 mask in its stomach. It can be seen from the picture below that the size of this mask is about the same size as a penguin.

Based on the migration path, environmentalists speculated that this helpless penguin should have followed its team from southern Argentina to forage, but mistakenly swallowed the mask as food on the way. Such a large piece of item was stuck in the body, and it couldn’t be vomited out, and it couldn’t be discharged. Death became its ultimate destination.

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In addition, the little pufferfish can hardly escape the damage caused by masks. In the sea off Miami in the United States, pufferfish have been killed by masks. According to a video taken by a netizen, a pufferfish body in an inflated state was tightened tightly by the mask strap. Pufferfish generally “inflate” when they encounter predators, but a huge mask is enough to make the pufferfish think that it is a threat to life.

Before it died, it wanted to get out of danger through inflation, but it did not expect that this would only tighten the mask. It is conceivable that it once struggled to survive, but in the end, it could only die in despair and pain.

reference to Twitter

According to the “Masks on the Beach” report released by OceansAsia, the number of masks produced globally in 2020 is estimated to be 52 billion, of which about 1.56 billion masks flow into the ocean. Based on the average weight of a mask of three or four grams, this has caused an additional 4680-6240 tons of marine plastic pollution.

The World Conservation Organization (WWF) has also shown that if 1% of the masks used are not disposed of properly, 10 million masks will pollute the environment every month. So, what should we do? First of all, we have to have a certain understanding of what is mask made of and why it can cause damage.

Masks are not plain cloth but plastic. The medical-surgical mask cover consists of two layers of unwoven fabric inside and outside, and a layer of melted fabric in the middle. The outer layer has an anti-dropping effect, the middle layer has a filtering function, and the inner layer mainly absorbs the liquid and moisture released by the wearer.

When we accidentally pile masks up by the ocean in tons, we should understand that after the cycle, the plastic particles will enter our stomachs. Fish eat plastic garbage, then people eat fish, hence forming perfect bioaccumulation.

reference to Theoceancleanup

Studies have shown that about 50% of people’s bodies in the world contain microplastics. Breathing, drinking, and eating may ingest microplastics into the human body. Although the impact of microplastics on human health is still unclear, the pollution problem of microplastics is imminent.

So is there a better way of dealing with masks?

1. The French startup Plaxtil provides solutions for surgical masks, fabric masks and FFP2 masks. It is currently conducting a pilot program in Chatellerault, France, where nearly 100,000 masks have been recycled.

Co-founder Olivier Civil said: “We have set up 50 collection points in pharmacies, stores or shopping malls. We remove the metal rods from the masks and grind them; then the crushed masks are thoroughly purified through the ultraviolet tunnel. Then, we turn these fragments into PLAXTIL materials are injected into the injection molding machine to obtain protection objects against Covid-19: mask fasteners, door openers, protective masks, etc.”

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2. Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Australia has developed a product made from waste plant materials, such as bagasse and other agricultural waste. The initial goal was to develop biodegradable anti-pollution masks. The current idea is that it can also be used for COVID-19 protection, because the highly breathable nanocellulose material can remove particles smaller than 100 nanometers (virus size).

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3. Researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia have developed a new material that hopes to use masks for road construction. The material combines shredded disposable masks with recycled concrete aggregate (RCA). Substances made from scraps of demolished buildings, such as concrete blocks, are crushed and reused. This new material not only gives new life to some of the 6.8 billion masks that researchers estimate are used every day around the world. According to this research, it can actually make roads stronger and sustain longer.

reference to trekandshoot/iStock, Nodar Chernishev/iStock

Whether it’s the use of masks to pave the road or the reuse of materials, these seemingly mind-boggling ideas tackle these “toxic problems”. In fact, not only these scientists, we can also remake the masks – recycle the masks and clean them up. Afterward, they can be combined with other materials to make some handbags, aprons, cushions for flower pots, hair bands and shoelaces.

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Comment below on which idea do you think is the most innovative and feasible one, and what others can you think of.

This article was edited and published by the intern Sweetie, thank you very much! And without their consent should not be reproduced.

By Social Innovation Insight

We are the bridge of change!

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