Temasek Foundation, a non-profit organization under the Singaporean state-owned investment company Temasek Holdings [TMSK:SP], pledged to distribute one free reusable mask to each Singapore resident from January 10, as reported by Straits Times on January 6. ST Engineering [STE:SP] designed the antimicrobial mask with a particle filtration efficiency of over 95%. The mask requires washing once a week or when dirty, and it preserves protective functions for up to 30 rinses or more than seven months if worn daily and washed weekly. This has been the foundation’s sixth free washable mask distribution since June 2020. On the first day of this dispensing, 250,000 reusable masks were collected from vending machines nationwide.
Temasek’s free mask program is part of the company’s Stay Prepared initiative, which was launched in March 2014 to help Singaporeans prepare for emergencies. Using reusable masks helps to diminish infection spread and reduce plastic waste from disposable masks. A report from American Chemical Society (ACS) Publications suggests the world consumes around 129bn face masks and 65bn gloves per month since the COVID-19 outbreak. Such personal protective equipment (PPE), which is not recyclable in most municipal systems, will generate massive plastic waste accumulating in the oceans. Aside from the efforts to promote reusable masks, Temasek Foundation has distributed over 1m free oximeters to Singapore households last July and August, as well as more than 920,000 bottles of povidone-iodine (PVP-I) mouth gargle dispensed from October to December 2021, all under the Stay Prepared initiative.