VANCOUVER -- A new program to recycle disposable face masks is being tested at select health facilities in Metro Vancouver.

The new recycling program, run by Vitacore – a Burnaby-based company responsible for Canadian-made N95 masks – is hoping to reduce the number of masks and respirators that end up in Canada's landfills.

"Over 63,000 tons of COVID-19 related single-use masks and respirators will be used over the next year in Canada (that could end up) in our landfills and oceans,” said the company’s president Mikhail Moore in a news release.

For frontline health-care workers, single-use personal protective equipment is a necessity as they support those who may be infected with the coronavirus.

According to Vitacore, bins for recycling single-use masks were placed at select long-term care and urgent care facilities in the City of Vancouver and in North Vancouver in early February, at no cost to the institutions.

“This program provides front-line workers with the opportunity to recycle their single-use face masks and CAN95 respirators and will be expanded nationally to include bins across the country,” reads the news release.

Used face masks can be a bio-hazard, so they will be sterilized before they are shipped to McMaster University’s Centre of Excellence in Protective Equipment and Materials

The masks will be “broken and down and repelletized” by the university.

“Polypropylene, the plastic used in single-use masks and respirators, will be given a second life as construction materials to reinforce concrete or siding for buildings and reduce the amount of waste heading to landfills,” continues the statement.