Santiago Municipality and CMPC seal agreement to recycle face masks

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Santiago Municipality and CMPC seal agreement to recycle face masks

29 Apr 2022

The initiative seeks to counter the environmental pollution generated by face masks as a result of the pandemic. To this end, 13 recycling points will be established in different areas of the municipality of Santiago.

The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in the widespread use of face masks as one of the ways to inhibit the spread of the virus. They have proved effective, helping to prevent transmission, but they have also been shown to pollute the environment once discarded. 

So, in addition to a health problem, we now also have an environmental concern, because the plastic components of face masks are now being seen as an environmental pollutant that can take more than 400 years to degrade.  According to the Seremi de Medio Ambiente, if each Chilean were to use two disposable masks per day, more than 30 million would be used every 24 hours, generating waste equivalent to more than 4,000 tons of additional plastic per month. 

It's why the Municipality of Santiago and CMPC signed an agreement last Friday to recycle used masks. The initiative involves a first stage of collection, for which 13 recycling points have been established in schools, dependent on the municipality and different places in the Santiago region. Once collected, the masks will be transferred to the Technological Development Unit plant of the University of Concepción, in the Biobío Region where they will be recycled and given a new lease of life as different plastic products, such as trays or planters.

The launch of the initiative was held at the Diferencial Juan Sandoval School and attended by Santiago’s Mayor, Irací Hassler, Luis Felipe Gazitúa, Francisco Ruiz Tagle, President and General Manager of CMPC, the person in charge of the circular economy area of the Seremi del Medio Ambiente de la Región Metropolitana, and councilors Dafne Concha and Yasna Tapia, among other dignitaries. Some 13 recycling points were announced around the Santiago area: Santo Domingo Building, Amunátegui Building, La Moneda Palace, Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra School, Swiss Confederation Lyceum, Republic of Germany School, Republic of Mexico Primary School, Chiloé Province Primary School, Arturo Prat Chacón Cadet School, Manuel Barros Borgoño High School, Juan Sandoval Differential School, the Municipality of Santiago, and the heated pool in O'Higgins Park.

Mayor Iraci Hassler said he was very happy with the public-private partnership: "…without a doubt we are proud to be the first commune in the Metropolitan Region and the second in the country to establish a process to recycle masks. Today we are opening the first 13 recycling points in the commune of Santiago which have a real role to play in improving the environment. 

“That is why, within the framework of our new waste management model, we are sealing this alliance. It is the latest in a series of initiatives that we are implementing, including the purchase of garbage-collection trucks, the certification of recyclers and base recyclers, and legislative reform, among other measures, to be a commune that is committed to waste management,” he added.

For his part, the President of the Board of Directors of CMPC, Luis Felipe Gazitúa, said: "We invite everyone to join this important initiative that we carry out together with the Municipality of Santiago and to leave their used masks at the new recycling points. This joint project aims to help with the growing problem that is discarded face masks. We want to protect the environment and contribute to the new sanitary measures around using face masks.”<

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