The scheme, which allows shoppers to drop off used, disposable face masks so that they can be recycled, will now be in place until Saturday, April 2 following a surge in customer demand.
The service will remain in place at 149 participating stores nationwide, including stores in Barking and Dagenham for the first time.
Those wishing to take part need to simply visit their nearest, participating Wilko store as part of their usual shopping trip and safely drop their used single use face masks into the special collection bin.
Once full, these bins are then taken away by recycling specialists ReWorked, who together with Metrisk Ltd, Scan2Recycle are partnering with Wilko in the scheme – which was the first of its kind on the UK high street.
Masks collected via the scheme are broken down into raw fibres which can be sustainably refashioned into products ranging from other safety materials for businesses, to building materials and even quality, durable public space furniture.
While masks are no longer a legal requirement, Wilko is still recommending face coverings for team members and customers in busy indoor spaces. The family retailer seeks to respect individual choices while providing a sustainable solution to single-use mask disposal.
The Wilko Face Mask Recycling Scheme has also been positively recognised by the Corporate Engagement Awards, winning a silver award in its Best Environmental and Sustainability Campaign category.
The Covid-19 crisis overall has seen a huge increase in the use of disposable face masks. While the government has encouraged Brits to dispose of face masks via general waste bins, there has been an ever-increasing volume of PPE being discarded in public spaces – meaning there are often greater levels of litter nationwide in areas such as parks, beaches, and high streets, impacting the life and leisure time of local communities, endangering wildlife, and ultimately harming the health of the planet.
Disposable face makes are made from polypropylene fabric - a type of plastic. An estimated eight million tonnes of general plastic waste already ends up in the world’s oceans every year, and the impact of the pandemic will only increase those figures if PPE litter continues to increase. Wilko and its partners for this scheme hope by continuing to provide an easy way to safely dispose of used PPE.
Jerome Saint Marc, CEO at Wilko, said: "We know that our customers care about the environment and this scheme has proved again to us just how much. We’re so delighted that it’s been this much of a success and that our customers and team members are helping to reduce litter in their communities, our partners are helping to recycle the waste and that we’re able to bring it all together in our stores. It’s a little win that truly makes a world of difference."
The scheme is the latest in an ongoing series of measures which Wilko is implementing to make a positive difference to the environment; the retailer has pledged to reach Net Zero Carbon by 2040 by signing the BRC’s Climate Action Roadmap and has joined The UK Plastics Pact, which focuses on reducing the use of single use plastic.
Since joining the UK Plastics Pact in 2020, Wilko has removed 1,200 tons of single use plastic.
For more information on disposable mask recycling at Wilko and for a full list of the 149 stores that are taking part, please visit https://www.wilko.com/face-mask-recycling.