Face shields are no longer mandatory. Now, what?

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 18) — After almost two years, the use of face shield is ​*finally* no longer mandatory. So, the question is: what now?

First things first, don't dispose your face shields. Instead, send them over to a recycling service, like The Plastic Flamingo.

More popularly known as The Plaf, this local social enterprise specializes in transforming plastic waste — including face shields — into sustainable construction materials.

The Plaf, founded in 2019, aims to collect 500 metric tons of plastic waste by year-end, and 2,000 tons by 2023, through its network of partnerships within and beyond Metro Manila.

You can bring your face shields to its drop-off points near your homes or opt to send them via courier.

Or, if you're feeling creative, why not turn your face shields into something useful yourself — whether that be a parol or Christmas lantern, or a torotot — since the holiday season is right around the corner.

Environment officials, however, have this reminder:

"If [you] want to convert it into parol, torotot, and all [those] stuff, disinfect [it]. It has a potential to be infectious, but all you have to do is treat it, set it aside for a couple of days. [The virus] should go away," the National Solid Waste Management Commission said.

On social media, netizens also threw in their suggestions when celebrity host Gretchen Ho asked the same question.

Some Twitter users responded face shields may be used as protective gear when cooking, particularly when frying fish, cooking meat, or chopping onions, among others.

One netizen suggested that these be converted into COVID-19 vaccination card holders, while others recommended that those face shields be donated to hospitals and medical facilities.

For some, however, it is best to still keep them, as the pandemic is far from over.

Environment Undersecretary Benny Antiporda made the same suggestion, saying face shields may be mandatory again "if the situation worsens." But he stressed they will be more proactive in addressing the growing problem in COVID-19 waste disposal.

The DENR earlier amended its Department Administrative Order 2021-14 to include health care waste, such as face shields, among those that can be used as alternative fuels and raw materials in cement kilns.

Based on local estimates, about 65 million face shields are being used per day in 21.8 million households nationwide.

The Philippines scrapped the face shield policy on Nov. 15 in areas under Alert Levels 1, 2, and 3. Local governments may keep or lift it on Alert Level 4, while it remains in place in hospitals, areas on granular lockdown, and those under the highest Alert Level 5.

Talks on requiring the use of face shield has been controversial from the start. An expert earlier raised its potential risks, saying it could trap airborne particles of COVID-19.