As the World moves towards controlling the COVID-19 pandemic with the distribution of vaccines, another concern (and the threat to Health) takes more and more force even in the background: how to process a new wave of contamination, with plastic waste as the main protagonists.
At the beginning of April 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) pointed out, for the first time, the effectiveness of the use of the mask to reduce the transmission of SARS-CoV-2. With all that was at stake, the environmental impact that its widespread and daily use would directly generate was in the background.
Four centuries of pollution
After months of the pandemic, no one is ignorant of the high price that mismanagement of waste from this coronavirus pandemic can bring to the environment. Focusing it only on the case of disposable masks, the numbers are already striking enough.
It must be considered that, if a mask – made of polyethylene or polypropylene – ends up being discharged into the environment, it can take between 300 and 400 years to degrade. But the number is not overwhelming because it is a vast period in itself, which it already is. The point is that, during these almost four centuries, there can be catastrophic consequences. Mainly two:
– On the one hand, if the mask ends up reaching the sea in its original size, it can be ingested by marine fauna and, possibly, cause the death of several species of animals.
– On the other hand, if it degrades, what it produces are microplastics that can also enter the food chain of living beings and even affect human health.
If the problem of plastics and micro-plastics was already acute before the arrival of the coronavirus, now it is even worse and action is more urgent than ever. To put one more piece of information, the World-Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in Italy estimates that, just by incorrectly discarding 1% off masks, up to 10 million polluting waste can be caused.
Products such as gloves and masks are the protagonists of consumption and waste to fight the pandemic and alleviate its effects. Waste that, in the best of cases, ends up in the yellow and gray containers, reaches the waste management plants, where they must be selected and classified.
Some alarming information related to the use of these products is not based so much on the huge amount but on what happens afterward since malpractice has been detected in their treatment. The reality is that, in plants, these products can be classified, but the important thing is that they are deposited in the indicated containers.
In this context, PICVISA offers effective solutions to contribute to the recycling of plastics and different disposable materials, most of them for personal protection and safety.
Picvisa’s solution: ECOPACK
Thanks to the flexibility of multispectral vision and its high-speed data processing, PICVISA’s ECOPACK allows the automatic classification and separation of various types of materials, especially plastics.
This equipment can be configured to make quick changes in the classification of new materials to be separated (such as gloves and masks), which may arise in the inflow to be treated.
All models – ECOPACK EP-1000, EP-1500, EP-2000, EP-2500, and EP-3000 – are designed to work on acceleration belts from 1000 mm to 3000 mm, with 0 different separation options available.
The differential value that PICVISA offers with the design and manufacture of this advanced equipment is completed by the years of accumulated experience, as well as the knowledge in optical solutions and intelligent robotics.