Are Disposable Masks The Ocean's Newest Jellyfish? – Here's How One Company Is Looking To Help Clean Up The Mess

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Three years after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is still reeling from the repercussions. 

The pandemic has taken lives, shifted social behaviors, spurred a surge of mental health issues, and disrupted global corporate supply chains. There was no escaping COVID-19 in the last few years – not even the ocean could get away. 

A research article published by the Proceedings of Natural Academy of Sciences (PNAS) shows that 8 million tons of pandemic-associated plastic waste have been generated globally with more than 25,000 tons entering the ocean. 

Hospitals already were generating 29 pounds of trash per bed per day. The pandemic exacerbated those numbers and the waste management crisis that followed. One report, for example, said 1.6 billion disposable masks entered the ocean in 2020 and will take roughly 450 years to biodegrade. 

For developing countries like Lebanon, the problems were even more severe. One study estimated COVID-19-related infectious healthcare waste generation at 39,035 kilograms per month or 1.3 tons per day, which constituted between 5% and 20% of total infectious healthcare waste in the country. 

The World Reacts

The waste-management problem has spurred innovations that extend from non-government organizations (NGO) to independent corporations. The Association of Cities and Regions (ACR) for sustainable resource management, for example, guides its 26 members across Europe and the Middle East through global waste-management practices

Companies like Waste Management Inc. WM and Republic Services Inc. RSG, on the other hand, have taken an entrepreneurial pursuit to the waste-management problem. Most recently, even former oil and gas contenders like Camber Energy Inc. CEI have become sustainability advocates. 

Through a recent joint venture, Camber’s majority-owned subsidiary Viking Energy Group Inc. VKIN acquired a 51% interest in an entity that owns the intellectual property rights to a Medical & Bio-Hazard waste treatment system using Ozone Technology. 

This acquisition reportedly falls into Viking’s larger-scale vision of becoming an advocate for sustainable technologies and a contender aiming to reduce the global carbon footprint. Through Ozone Technology, Camber adopts a sustainable alternative to incineration, chemical, autoclave, and heat treatment solutions to bio-hazardous wastes. 

The OZONE technology fine shreds the raw waste in a controlled ozone environment as the first step in the waste-processing treatment. The waste is reduced in volume by up to 90% and is then classified as a renewable fuel for waste-to-energy (WTE) facilities. The OZONE biohazardous waste treatment technology also extracts oxygen from the ambient air and converts it to ozone using plasma ozone generators.

Viking says the Ozone System is designed to assist with critical waste needs of a variety of institutions or organizations, including hospitals, universities, nursing homes, airports, cruise ships, and many others. 

“We are extremely pleased to continue our strategy to acquire ready-to-market products that demonstrate our commitment to innovation, sustainable technologies, and carbon footprint reduction,” Viking President and CEO James Doris said. 

To learn more click here.

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