The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Swiss Army to destroy 140M expired Covid masks

  • By The Swiss Times
  • 3 July 2023
During the Covid pandemic the Swiss government purchased 178 Million masks worth about 130 Million Swiss francs. About 80% will soon be burned, the Swiss Army confirmed.
Swiss Army to destroy 140M expired Covid masks
A dermatologist receives facial masks at Geneva’s distribution center in April 2020 (Keystone SDA).

Around 140 million Covid masks will expire this year in Switzerland. If no solution is found for an alternative use, the protective masks will be burned, a Swiss army spokeswoman confirmed to local outlet SonntagsZeitung over the weekend.

About 6.7 million FFP2 masks and 133 million hygiene masks that will reach their expiration date soon, the spokeswoman said.

Read more: Switzerland orders, destroys Covid vaccines

A total of 178 million worth 130 million francs were bought during the pandemic. About 6.7 million FFP2 masks and 133 million hygiene masks that will reach their expiration date soon and likely be “thermally recycled,” the spokeswoman said.

At the beginning of 2023 the federal government disposed of 2.2 million expired masks worth about CHF 1.13 million. Those masks were intended for troop deployments, according to the Army. Another nine million masks were already recalled and destroyed under suspicion of mold.

Swiss Army to destroy 140M expired Covid masks
The masks will be “thermally recycled,” also known as burned (Keystone SDA).

The Swiss Army-created Mercato sales platform for the pandemic protection was officially closed on June 21, the spokeswoman said. Very few orders have been registered in the last year; still, efforts are being made to find alternatives for the masks.

“The need for pandemic protection material is saturated, and potential customers are again getting their needs from their regular suppliers,” the army commented.

Read more: How many Swiss died from Covid vaccines?

While buying masks during disease outbreak is common for the Army – about 30 million were purchased during the 2009 bird flu epidemic – the masks have a short shelf life of only two to five years. The materials are subject to natural aging, so that over time the rubber bands become brittle or the filter performance of masks with filters is reduced.

This article was reprinted with permission from Keystone SDA.

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