Reduce Single-Use Plastic Waste with Dycem Contamination Control

Contaminated plastic waste is harmful to your environment. Therefore, by using disposable sticky mats and plastic overshoes, YOU are harming your environment.

The anti-plastic movement is widespread in today’s day and age. Social media, news websites, and nearly all modern-day advertising remind us of the millions of tons of plastic waste produced yearly across the globe.

With about half of the plastic ever manufactured having been produced in the past 15 years, the collaboration of industry to reduce single-use plastic production and improve recycling is increasing in importance.

In our daily lives, we are encouraged to make simple swaps such as using reusable coffee cups and supermarkets issuing 83% fewer plastic bags since charges for these commenced in 2015

There are many ways to curb plastic waste—by producing less, consuming less, and better managing the waste that already exists to prevent contamination or leakage.

But how does this mentality transfer into the workplace, particularly into environments where contaminated waste is prevalent?

Contaminated Single- Use Plastic Waste in the Workplace

According to statistics reported by the World Health Organisation (WHO), 15% of waste generated by healthcare activities is considered to be hazardous: infectious, toxic, or radioactive.

Contaminated waste contains potentially harmful microorganisms that can infect hospital patients, health workers, and the general public. Other potential hazards may include drug-resistant microorganisms that spread from facilities into the environment. The disposal of untreated contaminated waste in landfills can lead to the contamination of drinking, surface, and ground waters if those landfills are not properly constructed.

Additionally, to these toxic side effects, open burning and incineration of healthcare wastes can, under some circumstances, result in the emission of dioxins, furans, and particulate matter.

Aside from the environmental impacts of contaminated plastic waste, this can also cause immense problems within the work environment.

Lack of awareness about the hazards related to contaminated plastic waste, inadequate training in proper waste management, absence of waste management and disposal systems, insufficient financial and human resources, and the low priority given to the topic are the most common problems.

Why You Should Avoid Using Single-Use Plastic Mats

Hazardous/contaminated waste, coupled with disposal costs created with sticky mats, is not to be ignored. There are several reasons why using ‘disposable’ single-use plastic sticky mats is not just bad for the environment but also unsafe. 

Waste from Sticky Mats

Every sticky mat results in a 20 cm ball of contaminated plastic waste.

With the 20cm ball of waste created when peeling off a mat layer (generating enough waste to fill multiple dumpsters per year) and also being classed as secondary waste, sticky mats not only create an abundance of unnecessary waste but are very expensive to dispose of properly at the end its very short working life.

Further to the waste and cost implications with the use of sticky mats, tests show that disposable adhesive sticky mats are only 27% effective in preventing foot and wheel-borne contamination.

The average 2’x4’ sized sticky mat is too small to decontaminate effectively, and this makes full-wheel-borne decontamination almost impossible. This, coupled with the usual placement of only one sticky mat outside critical areas, can be very dangerous.

Ganging Sticky Mats Together

Ganging sticky mats together does address the size issue. However, the practical issues, labor, and material costs involved in peeling 8-10 mats several times each shift make this an expensive option. 10 sticky mats stuck together means there is a 20% risk of contamination entering a critical area if peeled twice per shift.

Also, when ganged together, sticky mats can harbor contaminants in the gaps between them.

Particle Build Up

The performance of sticky mats is greatly reduced with overstrikes. With every step, contamination builds up in layers on the feet. This buildup of contamination on the feet will not be effectively removed after one or a couple of steps on that area. In addition, particles can readily transfer back onto footwear, increasing the risk of contamination.

Sticky mats also cannot allow the three full-wheel rotations necessary to decontaminate wheeled traffic. These tacky, tearable mats are also prone to wrapping around the wheels of trolleys and carts, making it impossible to control cross-contamination in corridors.

Alongside this, they are prone to heavy saturation very quickly, reducing their efficiency in heavy traffic environments.

Adhesive from the mats can be transferred onto wheels and tracked into critical environments.

Peeling of Mats

A study highlighted the problem of particle shedding during the rip-up process of sticky mats. The tests revealed that, on average, 215,000 particles were released during the rip-up process – releasing hundreds of thousands of particles back into the atmosphere.

Single-Use Plastic Shoe Cover Waste

The use of multiple pairs of shoe covers per shift per employee adds similar amounts of plastic waste – not to mention the financial implications for the purchase of shoe covers and costs to the disposal of contaminated waste.

Many manufacturers and/or distributors claim good traction, durability, waterproof capabilities, and, most of all, contamination avoidance when selling shoe covers. However, the materials the shoes are produced from (chlorinated polyethylene, polypropylene, PVC) all have inherent weaknesses that could create a risk to your critical environment.

Potential risks with shoe covers, such as ripping and slipping, will depend on the materials they are made from. Polypropylene (PP) presents several problems in a controlled environment setting. PP is a non-woven material, which means that it can and will shed particles.

Furthermore, the highest risk is not necessarily through the usage of the shoes but by applying them to the feet. Using dirty/unwashed hands bypasses the purpose of having shoe covers and adds contamination to the underside even before entering critical environments.

How can Dycem make a difference to reduce single-use plastic waste?

Particularly within industries adhering to strict hygiene standards and needing to reduce dust particles within their working environments, common methods of controlling these types of contamination include shoe covers, overshoes, and sticky mats. 

These common contamination control methods may appear effective but they increase your organization’s plastic waste significantly.

The low initial cost of alternatives may seem attractive. However, when comparing Dycem’s Polymeric Flooring with sticky mats and shoe covers, Dycem not only costs less over the longevity of both products but, most critically, Dycem vastly outperforms in terms of size, quality, and retention of decontaminants, significantly reducing contamination risks to your business.

Dycem can be cut to any length or width to produce a large enough surface area to allow 99.9% decontamination of foot and wheel-borne contamination and is washable.

In order to get near comparable performance to Dycem, at least 8-10 peel-off mats/ tacky mats/ sticky mats need to be ganged together and peeled regularly. Dycem is also seamless, thus avoiding this contaminant trap.

When overstriking on Dycem, a further 90.3% of particles are removed from overshoes, compared with an increase of up to 381.9% being deposited back onto the shoes using sticky mats.

Cost Comparison: Sticky Mats vs. Dycem Mats Cost

(Stickymat cost x 10 (to create the size of Dycem)) + (peels per shift x shifts per day x days operation per year) x 2 (Redisposal) Costs

Dycem Cost

0 peels required x 2 shifts per day x 7 days per week (12-month replacement contract per pricing matrix).

Cost Comparison: Shoe Covers vs. Dycem

Shoe Cover Cost Formula

Shoe cover x 2 (= 1 person) x individuals per shift x shifts per day x days operation per year

What also should be considered is time lost putting on and removing overshoes and the amount of entry and exits per person per day in and out of the environment.

Dycem Cost

0 change over required x 2 shifts per day x 7 days per week (12 monthly replacement contracts per pricing matrix)

Dycem is easily integrated into your SOP and can be cleaned as part of your regular floor cleaning schedule. Dycem does not impact your daily waste volumes and can either be disposed of normally in regular waste or recycled into less critical applications (after its minimum 3-year working life).

Ready to make the switch to Dycem?

Dycem mats are not just the best way to reduce single-use plastic for your business, but they are also much safer and cost-effective than sticky removable mats and shoe covers. It’s a business’s responsibility to reduce their plastic consumption and plastic pollution, so start by contacting us today regarding our range of Dycem mats. 


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