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Aarhus tackling facemask pollution with smart design


Text: Cecília Tümler

In a world where wearing a facemask is the new normal, it's necessary to think about where its disposable editions are ending up after use. Studies show that in the UK alone, 53 million masks are discarded daily, indicating a looming risk of a significant environmental crisis - so the least we can do is discard them correctly. The Danish city of Aarhus was fast in identifying that people could use an extra incentive. One hundred new bins, specially designed for mask disposal, have now been installed in the city. Their purpose is for there to be no need to touch any handles or surfaces to discard an old mask.

“100 new bins, specially designed for mask disposal, have now been installed in the city.”

Despite not looking that much different from a conventional bin, the Corona-proof version has its hidden perks. According to the Aarhus municipality, sometimes masks don't fall properly to the regular trash-cans' bottom, making them appear fuller. The lack of a lid is also dangerous since the masks can be more easily spread in the urban space by wind and scavenging animals. "We hope to avoid that problem with the new bins. We also hope that we will spend much less time picking up leftover masks from the street in the future.", says Kim Gulvad Svendsen, Operations Manager of Technology and Environment of Aarhus.

With a capacity of 240 litres, the new equipment can collect around 3000 masks that can also be safely emptied to protect sanitation workers. But the bins' existence is also a reminder that the masks don't need to be disposable to be effective. Buying three-layered fabric ones is the key to combine protection and minimum environmental damage. Follow this link to read the World Health Organization's recommendations on masks and staying safe -

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