Covid-19 PPE Recycling Scheme goes live

We are delighted to share that Bouygues UK is working with ReWorked to address the sustainable disposal of COVID-19 face masks.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bouygues Construction United Kingdom has procured almost 3 million masks to protect our people in the workplace. As a result, volumes of waste have increased significantly. Whilst ensuring employee safety is our number one priority, we also recognise the negative environmental impacts of this waste stream. Unfortunately, COVID-19 PPE is often thrown away as non-recyclable waste and is frequently disposed of incorrectly.

To better manage this waste and minimise our impact on the environment and society, we have identified an innovative solution based on the principles of the circular economy. Reducing waste and pollution, means keeping products and materials in use, regenerating. This, in turn, helps to protect natural systems and is a vital component of Sustainable Development.

We have been undertaking trials with ReWorked, an innovative company that uses COVID-19 PPE items to manufacture a durable and versatile material. PPE is disposed of in collection boxes and returned to a specialist facility for sterilisation and processing. The waste is then processed into items such as reusable construction site hoarding, office furniture, toilet cubicles, planters and even dedicated protection boxes.

This scheme has successfully been trialled on several Bouygues Construction sites across the UK including construction, facilities management, infrastructure, offices and a data centre and we’re now ready to scale up within the business.

Izzie Glazzard, from ReWorked said, “We are thrilled to be working with Bouygues UK to help reduce the environmental impact of the essential PPE items used by staff. With statistics suggesting the number of facemasks in the ocean now exceeds that of jellyfish, we need direct action from businesses using significant amounts of PPE.

Recycling this new waste stream that would otherwise go to landfill or incineration will have a direct impact on the environment, pollution and carbon emissions.”

Lewis Chenery, Environment Manager at our sister company, Bouygues Energies & Services said, “A year spent suffering a global pandemic has meant increased disposal of Covid-19 related PPE, posing severe challenges to the environment. We are grateful to be working with ReWorked, who are helping us to rethink how and what we throw away – seeing not waste, but opportunity. It is vital that we recognise recycling as the keystone to a circular economy that it is, helping to protect our planet.”

Check out the video below to see how the process in action.