Saint-Laurent is tired of masks littering the streets -- so it’s sending them to New Jersey

If you take a walk through certain Saint-Laurent buildings, starting now, you’ll notice a new kind of recycling box.

The borough has finally said enough is enough when it comes to COVID-19 trash, especially single-use masks, gloves and other protective equipment.

“These types of masks can easily find themselves floating in the wind, winding up in, sewers, waterways,” said Alan DeSousa, the mayor of Ville Saint-Laurent.

“We’ve seen how the proliferation of plastic can be detrimental to biodiversity.”

The boxes have been set up in public borough buildings, with DeSousa saying it’s worth doing for a population the size of the borough’s—105,000 people.

“COVID will be with us for a long time to come,” he said.

“These masks are in many cases inevitable… with that in mind, we’re preparing for the short, medium, and long term. We don’t want this to be an issue in our community.”

Once full, the boxes will be sent to TerraCycle, a recycling centre devoted to PPE that’s based in New Jersey.

They’ll eventually turn the masks into pallets, furniture and even railroad ties. According to its website, it runs largely on volunteer labour.

“This is a perfect example of a waste stream that cannot go in your municipal recycle bin,” said Dylan Layfield of TerraCycle.

“Our goal is to collect, recycle, and keep as much material out of the landfill or incineration as possible.”

DeSousa said an added benefit for the borough is that it will help it gauge exactly how much PPE waste it’s diverting from the landfill.

He said that while it’s nice to be a trailblazer, he hopes the idea will catch on elsewhere.

“This is what you’d call a no-brainer,” he said. “Easy to do, easy to implement, but there has to be a political will on behalf of council to do it.”

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