The Regional Municipality Of York

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Single-use masks and gloves belong in garbage, not recycling

COVID-19 has resulted in an increase of single-use masks and gloves being purchased, used and tossed away. The big question seems to be: where do they go?

Single-use masks and gloves should never be placed in the blue box for recycling. They present a health and safety risk to workers in York Region’s Materials Recovery Facility where blue box items get sorted before they are shipped off for recycling. Staff have to physically remove these items from the sorting line. Regardless of COVID-19, masks and gloves are not recyclable and have never been a part of the blue box program.

Just as importantly, masks and gloves should never be littered. Besides the obvious reason that litter is always unacceptable, the other factor is health and safety. Used masks and gloves should be disposed of properly to further reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

How should you dispose of your single-use masks and gloves?

  • Single-use masks and gloves go in the garbage. To keep you and your family safe, throw your used masks and gloves in a wastebasket lined with a plastic bag
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after throwing those items away as well as after emptying your waste basket
  • Tie all plastic bags tightly and put out with your regular garbage. All garbage bags need to be tied securely when set out at the curb.

Many of us place things in the blue box with the intent of doing the right thing, hoping it’s recyclable. The best thing to do is check first with your City, Town or Region. Learn what is accepted in York Region’s blue box program at york.ca/bluebox.


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