Local hair salon accepts used PPE for safe disposal

A local salon is doing its part to make a positive difference during the pandemic by accepting disposable masks and gloves from the public.

On Monday, The Natural hair salon on View Street put a box outside the salon inviting people to drop off any used personal protection equipment they might have collected during the pandemic.

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“We decided to act because of a lack of any guidance by the government on their disposal. We’re pretty sick of the environmental damage they cause, after hearing of masks ending up in the ocean and animals trapped in the strings,” said Natalie Grunberg- Ferreira, general manager of the salon. “We are already equipped to handle the volume of PPE employees and clients use every day.”

She said the used PPE will be sent to a facility in Vancouver run by the Green Circle Salon program, which already collects waste from 16,000 beauty salons across Canada.

The program recycles, recovers or repurposes typical waste from salons, such as hair clippings, hair colourants and single-use items, such as nail files, waxing strips and cotton swabs.

Because the disposable masks and gloves could be contaminated, they will be incinerated to create energy, with the leftover ash used as a filler in asphalt.

Grunberg-Ferreira said the salon will likely incur extra costs to cover an increase in volume, but it’s “just the cost of doing business.”

Grunberg- Ferreira hopes the initiative will spur other salons into offering the same service.

“If they are part of the Green Circle Salon program, the system is already in place to receive the items. All they have to do is get the word out and be part of the solution.”

She said the collection program is safe for both the public and employees. The collection box will be located outside, so nobody has to come into the salon to drop off items.

When the box is full, it is sealed and included in the program’s regular collection process.

The environmental protection department at the Capital Regional District, which oversees household waste in the capital region, said PPE is not considered a biohazard and can be disposed of in a household’s regular garbage.

“Disposable products like disinfecting wipes, paper towels, face masks and rubber gloves are not part of the provincial recycling program and should be put in your garbage in a sealed bag,” said Russ Smith, senior manager of environmental resource management with the CRD. “If these items are in your blue box, your recyclables will not be collected.”

While Grunberg- Ferreira would have liked some level of government action on used PPE, she understands why it isn’t happening. “The government is busy right now fighting COVID-19. Sometimes businesses can be ahead of the curve on such

initiatives.”

While it is not asking for payment to safely dispose of used PPE, the salon will accept new toys for its annual Christmas toy drive, which has a goal of donating 500 toys for this year’s CFAX Santas Anonymous.

For more information, go to thenaturalhairsalon.com or Facebook.

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