Metro Vancouver residents disposed 528 million masks, PPEs in pandemic year 2020

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      Metro Vancouver residents have disposed more half a billion pieces of personal protective equipment last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

      The estimate is contained in a report to the zero waste committee of the regional district.

      In the report, Terry Fulton, senior project engineer with the district’s solid waste services, stated that an estimated 194 units of PPEs per capita, or by each person, were thrown away in 2020.

      That means a total of 528 million items that ended up in the garbage.

      Gloves accounted for most of the disposed PPEs, or a total of 371 million, based on an individual count or estimate.

      Masks followed with 109 million pieces, and wipes, 48 million.

      The combined weight of the disposed PPEs is estimated at 3,560 tons.

      Fulton’s report is included in the agenda Friday (March 12) of Metro Vancouver’s zero waste committee.

      “This is the first year Metro Vancouver reported personal protective equipment category in its waste composition study,” Fulton wrote.

      The engineer added: “Total quantities may be underestimated as it is uncertain if overall contributions of personal protective equipment from health care waste, which contains high concentrations of certain personal protective equipment, have been accurately estimated.”

      Fulton’s report covers the broader topic of the composition of Metro Vancouver’s waste in 2020.

      A study conducted for the region involved five waste facilities in Vancouver, Burnaby, North Vancouver, Coquitlam, and Surrey.