Wilko estimates that a huge 400,000 masks could be recycled via the scheme – this equates to a giant 966kg of single-use plastic.
Those wishing to take part need to simply visit their nearest, participating Wilko store as part of their usual shopping trip and safely drop their used single-use face masks into the special collection bin.
Once full, these bins are then taken away by recycling specialists ReWorked, who together with Metrisk Ltd, Scan2Recycle are partnering with Wilko in the scheme – which was the first of its kind on the UK high street.
Masks collected via the scheme are broken down into raw fibres which can be sustainably refashioned into products ranging from other safety materials for businesses, to building materials and even quality, durable public space furniture.
While masks are no longer a legal requirement, Wilko is still recommending face coverings for team members and customers in busy indoor spaces and seeks to respect individual choices while providing a sustainable solution to single-use mask disposal.
The scheme has also been positively recognised by the Corporate Engagement Awards, winning a silver award in its Best Environmental and Sustainability Campaign category.
While the government has encouraged Brits to dispose of face masks via general waste bins, there has been an ever-increasing volume of PPE being discarded in public spaces – meaning there are often greater levels of litter nationwide in areas such as parks, beaches, and high streets, impacting the life and leisure time of local communities, endangering wildlife, and ultimately harming the health of the planet.
Jerome Saint-Marc, Wilko chief executive, said: “We know that our customers care about the environment and this scheme has proved again to us just how much.
"We’re so delighted that it’s been this much of a success and that our customers and team members are helping to reduce litter in their communities, our partners are helping to recycle the waste and that we’re able to bring it all together in our stores.
"It’s a little win that truly makes a world of difference.”