Free Recycling Initiative for Used Facemasks

An estimated three million facemasks are used globally each minute (!) and 129 billion masks enter the waste stream every month.

A new free recycling initiative designed to prevent PPE from entering the waste stream and marine environment has launched to help address barriers to the recycling of face masks.

The initiative is believed to be a first-of-its-kind recycling programme for masks in New Zealand and it is hoped to remove the cost and logistical barriers preventing consumers from recycling their masks.

Households and businesses can request a free postage-paid courier bag to be delivered to them, which they can then fill with used facemasks of any brand or material. At no cost, a courier will collect their masks and send them to an Auckland facility where they will be quarantined before being manually sorted into recycling categories. 

Any disposable masks made from polypropylene will be upcycled into BioGro certified fence posts for the domestic and export markets, while fabric masks which use natural filters made from wool and other cloth materials will be disassembled to support composting of their components in a separate programme.

The scheme is run by the country’s largest mask manufacturer and exporter, MEO and the new programme will cost around $50,000 annually.

The free recycling collection initiative can be accessed anywhere in New Zealand and is open to consumers and businesses.

Free postage-paid courier bags to support the return of end-of-life facemasks can be requested via