The Venetian is making headlines with its new strategy to recycle face masks.
Ever since the resort reopened last June, mandatory face masks have been part of its plan to keep guests and staff safe. Anyone who forgets to bring their own face covering can grab a disposable mask from security. However, management quickly noticed that the policy was producing a large amount of waste. Instead of ignoring the problem, the Venetian's executive director for sustainability says the resort took it as a challenge and decided to find an alternative, less wasteful way to get rid of disposable masks.
Initially, it was unclear whether face masks could be recycled safely. The resort approached several companies with the recycling idea, but this proved to be more complicated than they anticipated. The challenges that arose in this quest included recycling complications since the masks are made of multiple materials, as well as the health concerns of recycling used face masks.
After approaching several companies, the resort finally teamed up with innovative recycling company TerraCycle. Their goal is to set up a largescale recycling plant for personal protection equipment. As a rule, masks can't be disposed like regular garbage. The same applies to any safety equipment. TerraCycle is among the few companies that caters to the disposal and recycling of materials that the city municipalities do not cater to.
The resort has a strategy to collect and recycle face masks with a reduced risk of contamination. The plan includes placing multiple collection boxes all over the casino and hotel where people can dispose of their used masks. They then have a team that sorts through all waste to ensure that no masks go to the landfill. Together with TerraCycle, the employees package and transport the used masks in vast, 800-pound bales for recycling. All of the individuals who come into contact with the used masks wear special gear for protection.
One way that the masks undergo recycling is by shredding them into small pieces, which are combined and pressed to solid form and used to make shipping pallets, composite lumber and more.
The program's main idea was to create a balance between optimal public health, sustainable preventive solutions, and care for the environment. Hopefully, with time this becomes the way to go for more establishments and businesses.