PPE waste: Responsible disposal solutions



Your salon disposes of a great deal of personal protective equipment (PPE). Businesses such as yours are probably being pressured to stock up on huge supplies of face masks, both for staff and customers. You may even have sanitising stations equipped with disinfecting wipes and paper towels for disinfecting spray. You probably have gloves, not just for protection from the virus but also for handling chemicals for certain hair treatments. Your salon brings in as well as disposes of a steady flow of PPE which, as you well know, you often pay for on both ends.


Salon PPE can be incredibly problematic for the environment so it is important to make sure it gets disposed of properly. Read our article The problem with PPE to understand why. There are a number of ways your business can minimise the negative impacts of PPE and we make some recommendations for using them more wisely in our article, How to become a PPE-wise salon.


When salons use GSC to dispose of their PPE waste they can be assured that as much of it will be recycled as possible. We provide bins with which to separate PPE from all other waste streams. This ensures that that pesky coronavirus does not spread. There is some PPE, however, that cannot be recycled but these materials will be used to generate energy and will not be sent to landfill.


GSC makes use of the infrastructure of a third-party local business, First Mile, to transport PPE waste from salons to a sorting facility. There we separate out that which can be recycled such as the masks made from HDPE or visors made from PVC or PET. The rest is brought to a specialist facility that burns it to ash. The incineration process produces heat and electricity for the UK National Grid and the ash is used for aggregate and other building materials (unless it is deemed unsafe in which case it is buried). Hazardous waste such as that containing PPE is burned according to the Offensive Waste guidelines.



This article was written for Green Salon Collective by MeetthefiveRs



References and further reading


First Mile’s article, Why is renewable energy so important?


First Mile’s article, 22 facts about renewable energy


UK Government press release, Huge increase in UK personal protective equipment production


BBC News article, Covid virus ‘survives for 28 days’ in lab conditions


The Guardian article, Ditch the gloves, buy a litter-picker, but don’t carshare! How to be eco-friendly in a pandemic


World Health Organisation article, Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Masks


The Mayor of London and London Assembly article, Which is best: a reusable covering or a disposable/single use face covering?


TerraCycle’s article, Here’s how you start Eliminating the Idea of Waste®


TerraCycle’s Safety Equipment and Protective Gear Zero Waste Box™​



Cover photo by De an Sun on Unsplash