A town near Toulouse is turning used surgical-style face masks into rulers and other stationery for local schools.
Some 20,000 of the masks have been transformed into enough rulers, set squares and protractors to equip 300 school children.
Collection points for used masks have been introduced at schools, shops and municipal offices in Saint-Jory (Haute-Garonne), north of Toulouse.
"Before, we would find McDonald's wrappers all over the place. They’ve been replaced by surgical masks, especially coming out of supermarkets, where customers return their trolleys and throw their masks on the floor without a second thought once their shopping is done", Thierry Fourcassier, Mayor of Saint-Jory and science teacher, told France 3.
Besides turning the disposable masks into something useful, the stationery produced will help raise awareness among children about the importance of recycling and the environment.
Nous avons dépassé 20000 kits d'écolier fabriqués avec des masques recyclés. Ils sont distribués aux écoliers des villes qui ont recyclé leurs masques avec PLAXTIL. La preuve du recyclage est là, les sourires et la curiosité des enfants sont de véritables pépites de bonheur ! pic.twitter.com/4ZVbFpU7bK— PLAXTIL ♻️ (@plaxtil) July 4, 2021
Plaxtil in Châtellerault (Vienne) is the company being used to make the products, having first disinfected the disposable masks using ultraviolet light.
Before the pandemic, Plaxtil specialised in recycling textiles, but started making products like visors and masks during lockdown.
It is currently focused on recycling surgical masks and giving them new life by collecting the plastic from them and using it to make items including hangers, beach ashtrays and stationery.