Personal Protective Equipment

How to Dispose of Personal Protective Equipment Safely?

During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, you must have used face masks, gloves, or the entire medical PPE kit for safety and protection against the deadly virus. But before purchasing them, have you ever thought about how to dispose of personal protective equipment safely? Of course, your obvious answer would be your trash can. Unfortunately, only 10% of the population knows how to manage waste. The other 90% end up disposing of the sanitary waste in the landfills as mixed waste. If you’re amongst the remaining 90%, then you should give this article a good read. 

Being one of the leading PPE equipment suppliers in the USA, proper waste management and disposal goes without saying, and we encourage people to follow the best practices for the safe disposal of personal protective equipment.  

What is PPE? 

The term PPE has been trending on the internet for the past couple of years. If you don’t know, PPE is an abbreviation of Personal Protective Equipment. It is a protective gear or clothing usually worn by healthcare professionals, students, employees, visitors, or contractors. It acts as a shield or barrier between their bodies and workplace hazards.  

But due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide, the entire global population has purchased PPE in the last couple of years. The demand spikes for PPEs led to the emergence of many wholesale PPE suppliers and manufacturers worldwide. Personal protective equipment manufacturers are producing PPEs on a large scale to meet the rising demand. But have you ever thought about where this bulk will be disposed of? The obvious answer is the ‘Landfills’. 

Types of PPE 

The majority of Personal Protective Equipment produced is non-reusable. Since it is contaminated, all PPE is non-biodegradable and non-recyclable. There are several discussions and video tutorials on the reuse of PPE through washing, sterilization, or UV. However, doing these practices repeatedly only limits and reduces the effectiveness and the total lifespan of that PPE.  

To address this problem, reusable PPE is being introduced in the market, however, its advantages are often overlooked by people. 

Co-Defend, being one of the reliable PPE equipment suppliers in the USA, is a one-stop destination for all types of PPE items. We offer products ranging from face masks, gloves, and medical protective clothing to other medical supplies. 

Why Is It Important to Dispose of Personal Protective Equipment Safely?

Impacts of Unsafe Disposal of PPE 

The unsafe disposal of PPE not only risks the lives of waste collectors but also contaminates the environment. One of the biggest disadvantages of unsafe disposal of PPE is the increasing volume of landfills. A huge amount of landfills not only contaminate the soil, water, and air but serves as a breeding ground for harmful viruses and bacteria, thereby risking human lives. 

Furthermore, PPEs are not only disposed of in landfills, but are also being dumped into the oceans, risking the lives of marine species, and biotic habitats. 

Ways to Dispose Personal Protective Equipment Safely 

If you’re thinking about how to solve the problem of the unsafe disposal of PPE, the answer is very simple and is right in front of you. On a personal level, you can start by segregating your daily waste, especially your PPE. To dispose of personal protective equipment safely, you need to make sure that it is thoroughly secured in a garbage bag and sent to the local municipal corporation for further treatment. 

You can even add a label to your PPE waste as an extra precautionary method. You must remember that PPEs are composed of plastic or rubber materials, and therefore, it is non-recyclable as it is contaminated. Hence, they should be disposed of in the recycling bin. 

Local authorities can also set up trash cans exclusively for the safe disposal of PPEs. The use of more signage in public areas and creating awareness through television ads on the proper disposal of personal protective equipment may help in the right usage and disposal practices. 

Wholesale PPE suppliers and manufacturers should also make sure to add instructions on the packaging about the right usage and disposal of PPEs. 

How to Reduce the Unsafe Disposal of PPEs? 

One of the most effective ways to reduce your PPE waste disposal is to try and SAY NO to the use of non-reusable PPE. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the most common type of personal protective equipment which has received mass consumption is face masks. One could buy reusable face masks made of cloth, which can be easily washed. There are several tutorials on homemade face masks that can help you stitch your own reusable face masks  

Final Thought 

We must not forget that as much as personal protective equipment protects us, it can also harm our health and environment. The PPE is intended to help us fight against public health hazards, not to pollute the environment. We hope that now when you buy facemasks online and dispose of them, you will think twice. 

As one of the trustable and responsible PPE equipment suppliers in the USA, we follow the best waste management practices to keep our environment PPE-waste free and we encourage you to use and dispose of personal protective equipment safely. 


Q.1. Can disposable face masks be used after sterilization? 

The single dry heat sterilization, 70 degrees Celsius heating for 30 minutes, can inactivate the coronavirus effectively without affecting the protective effective of the face mask. However, it is still uncertain whether frequent decontamination affects the effectiveness of the face mask. 

Q.2. Is it safe to reuse face masks? 

If there’s an inadequate stock of N95 or surgical masks, as long as the mask you’re wearing is not contaminated, soiled, or damaged, you can reuse the face mask for a short duration. Healthy people can use N95 respirators straight for about 8 hours and surgical masks for 4 hours continuously. However, patients with chronic respiratory problems should avoid wearing them for a long duration. 

Have More Questions? Feel Free to Ask Our Experts Right Away! 

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