While the mask is becoming mandatory in more and more cities in France, the French company Plaxtil has found a solution to recycle it, and thus prevent it from polluting the seas. Since the end of June, 70,000 masks have been recycled, as explained by Olivier Civil, the co-founder of Plaxtil on Europe 1 on Saturday.

INTERVIEW

While the coronavirus epidemic is experiencing a rebound, the mask is becoming mandatory in more and more cities in France, such as in Paris, Marseille or Strasbourg. But the disposable surgical mask pollutes. It is found in the streets, in nature, in the seas and oceans. However, a French company found the solution to recycle them. The start-up Plaxtil, established in Châtellerault in Vienne since October 2019, currently recycles "between 10,000 and 15,000 masks per week", explains on Europe 1 on Saturday its co-founder Olivier Civil.

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50 mask collection points in Châtellerault

Good news, therefore, surgical masks are recyclable because "they are made of more than 90% polypropylene". "Even the elastics are generally composed of more than 50% polypropylene. These are materials that we are used to recycling," says Olivier Civil.

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In Châtellerault, Plaxtil has therefore set up "around fifty collection points for masks, open to the general public". The insertion company Audacie, a partner of Plaxtil, takes care of the collection and quarantine of the masks for "four days minimum", notes the co-founder.

Visor mounts, door openers, mask clips

Audacie then removes the metal bar from the masks, "the only thing that cannot be recycled", then Plaxtil integrates these masks into its manufacturing process. We will grind them to be sure there is no virus left, then we will pass them through a very intense ultraviolet tunnel which will completely decontaminate the raw material ", he explains. This plastic material then goes to be "reinjected" to make hard objects that will "replace plastic objects", he adds. "We make lots of objects around the Covid such as visor brackets, door openers, mask fasteners . "

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Towards a mask recycling channel?

"Since the start of the operation at the end of June, we have recycled about 70,000 masks", rejoices Olivier Civil. At the start of the school year, Plaxtil will even recycle the masks used daily by the Civaux power station. 

And requests are pouring in, from France but also from other countries around the world. "The Ministry of the Economy and Finance contacted us at the end of July. And we told them that we were ready to collaborate with them in setting up a recycling channel for masks," explains the co-founder of the company. "It would be great if France gave itself the means to be the first country in the world capable of recycling this waste."

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