Environmental impact of PPE in the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic

Frances Mortimer's picture


Resource Description: 

Article: Environmental impact of Personal Protective Equipment supplied to health and social care services in England in the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chantelle Rizan, Malcolm Reed, Mahmood F Bhutta

Extract from Abstract: The carbon footprint of PPE supplied during the study period totalled 106,478 tonnes CO2e, with greatest contributions from gloves, aprons, face shields, and Type IIR surgical masks. The estimated damage to human health was 239 DALYs (disability adjusted life years), impact on ecosystems was 0.47 species.year (loss of local species per year), and impact on resource depletion costed at US $ 12.7 million.

Scenario modelling indicated UK manufacture would have reduced the carbon footprint by 12%, eliminating gloves by 45%, reusing gowns and gloves by 10%, and maximal recycling by 35%. A combination of strategies would have reduced carbon footprint by 75% compared with the base scenario, and saved an estimated 183 DALYS, 0.34 species.year, and US $ 7.4 million due to resource depletion.



Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine

Publication date: 

December, 2020

Resource type: 

  • information resource


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