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Venetian launches recycling program for surgical face masks

Updated July 22, 2020 - 8:33 am

The Venetian launched a program to recycle surgical face masks used by guests and staff.

The Las Vegas Sands Corp. resort says it’s the first Las Vegas-based property to develop such a program, which is done in partnership with waste management company TerraCycle.

Discarded masks are collected on-site at The Venetian and sent to a recycling facility. There, they are separated, shredded and turned into a “crumb-like” raw material, according to a Tuesday news release from the company. The material can be used to make products such as composite lumber for shipping pallets, railroad ties and composite decking.

The property has been separating discarded masks from other waste sent to landfills since its reopening June 4, and it is undergoing this project as part of its Sands ECO360 initiative.

“As a company that has put sustainability in the forefront of our operation, it was important to find a recycling solution for this (personal protective equipment), to avoid sending them to our landfills,” said George Markantonis, president and chief operating officer of The Venetian. “Our Sands ECO360 global sustainability initiative was designed to help minimize our environmental impact, and it reflects our vision as a leader in sustainable resort operations.”

Surgical masks are not currently recycled through mainstream or curbside recycling programs because the recycling process is so complex. The masks are composed of various materials that need to be sorted and separated before recycling — including a metal nose strip, which requires a magnet to separate it.

The property diverts 27 types of trashed items, saving 55 percent to 60 percent of waste from being sent to local landfills. In comparison, the national average is 32 percent, and the state average is 23 percent, according to the release.

The project will provide proof of concept for its recycling methods to encourage other companies to initiate identical programs.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. Las Vegas Sands operates The Venetian.

Contact Bailey Schulz at bschulz@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0233. Follow @bailey_schulz on Twitter.

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