While many businesses struggled to figure out what to do with their used PPE after re-opening, one Richmond hair salon was way ahead of the curve.
Many residents have been complaining about the discarding of used masks, gloves and face shields since phase 3 of the pandemic allowed certain operations to open to the public.
And that was top of mind for Jessica Vero and her Vero & Co Studio team at their vegan hair salon near No. 5 and Williams roads.
Before Vero welcomed clients back in May, she made sure that all of their used PPE could be collected as part of the Green Circle recycling program, that her studio is already enrolled in.
"We had to kit ourselves out straight away in disposable aprons, gloves, face shields, everything," said Vero, who opened the salon three years ago with the express purpose of the business being vegan.
"Prior to the pandemic, we were working with Green Circles and were already very environmentally friendly.
"So, 95 per cent of our waste gets recycled. For example, our hair clippings actually go to make fill booms for oil spills. The nail polish gets recycled as well.
"Green Circle is a certification for salons, where we pay a fee per client for the waste to be taken away and recycled.
"It was acatually a natural transition to using the PPE in the same program.
"That was a big thing for us, being able to recycling everything when we reopened."
All of their PPE, added Vero, is a one-time use, with a new mask being worn by staff for every client.
The used materials, she said, are getting recycled, incinerated and turned into ashes, which are then used to make filler in asphalt and other construction material.
Since re-opening, Vero said business has been gradually picking up, with more new clients looking for healthy and environmentally friendly options.
She explained, however, that she has not increased her eco fee per client to cope with the increased recycling from the PPE.
"We’re not passing that cost onto customers, that's on us," said Vero, adding that it costs them $67 per Green Circle box. "We pack it in pretty good."