Ohio-based Battelle recycling masks at no charge thanks to $400M federal contract

Coronavirus

In this illustration dated February 26, 2020, protective N-95 face masks lie on a table at an office in Washington, DC. (Photo by EVA HAMBACH/AFP via Getty Images)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) – Battelle Memorial Institute, the Columbus-based medical non-profit, received a $400 million contract on Tuesday from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, according to U.S. Senator Rob Portman.

Portman discussed the news during a conference call with reporters on Monday.

Battelle created a machine to decontaminate N95 respirator masks last month. Portman said the company has shipped six of the machines, two of which are cleaning 160,000 masks a day in Columbus. He said another dozen were set to ship this week.

In a press release, Battelle said the FEMA contract would allow the company to set up decontamination machines at 60 sites. Portman said this would allow for 4 to 5 million masks to be recycled per day.

Portman said he was concerned hospitals weren’t taking advantage of the decontamination service. He said with the amount of Personal Protection Equipment needed during the COVID-19 outbreak, getting the most out of the equipment is important.

“I’ve talked to Gov. DeWine, Battelle and a number of hospitals,” Portman said. “I tell them my strong view is they ought to use this. I think they are working so darn hard it’s just usual practice when you get done with a mask to toss it, but maybe they can set up separate bins for contaminated ones.”

Information on Battelle and its mask recycling program is available on its website.

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