Improving face masks’ waste management during COVID-19 pandemic: A Case of Turkey

Konyalıoğlu A. K., Bereketli Zafeırakopoulos İ.

Conference: Eighth International Conference on Environmental Management, Engineering, Planning and Economics (CEMEPE 2021) and SECOTOX Conference, Thessaloniki, Greece, 20 - 23 July 2021, pp.123-131

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Full Text
  • City: Thessaloniki
  • Country: Greece
  • Page Numbers: pp.123-131
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Face masks have always been used by medical doctors and other healthcare workers as it has an important place in doctors and patients’ lives. During COVID-19 pandemic, disposable face masks have been vital as it prevents the virus which rapidly spreads to others. However, because of high use rate in Turkey, disposable face masks threaten environmental sustainability at a high risk. Disposable face masks are produced from plastic raw materials such as polypropylene, polyethylene or polyester for filtering face mask, ear loop and nose part produced from metal and they are categorized under medical waste in Turkey. For avoiding of contamination, although polypropylene, polyethylene, polyester, and metal can be recycled after UV cleaning, they are directly sent to incineration area after waiting 72 hours in Turkey and collected generally in municipal recycling centers. Considering that plastic waste and highly use of disposable face masks poses a major problem for environmental sustainability, disposable face mask under medical waste is very crucial for recycling and reusing. In this study, it is aimed to design a sustainable closed loop supply chain for disposable face mask recycling and reusing by an integrated system dynamics and causal loop approach in order to propose a new waste management policy in Turkey. The model will provide a new perspective about plastic waste and disposable face mask waste management for increasing recycling and reusing rate.