Littering of Masks Causes Environmental and H&S Hazards
Masks dropped carelessly are a health and safety hazard for safe collection and disposal, pose risks to wildlife and increase plastic use.
The figures are truly staggering, and the issue is only going to get worse if individuals fail to take action. It’s been calculated that in 2021 in the UK alone, at current rates we will use 19.5 billion disposable face masks. That’s 52 million per day, 1.6 billion per month.
Given that a proportion of these masks may be contaminated with the Covid-19 virus, this makes the safe disposal of used masks a health and safety hazard. Whether masks are dropped accidentally or fall out of pockets, they can end up in drains, rivers and ultimately the sea, causing risks to wildlife and pollution from the plastic components. So much progress has been made in recent years to reduce plastic, and this backwards step seems tragic.
To address the environmental impact, the solution is to use washable reusable masks. Not only will this reduce volumes of waste disposal, but it will also reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing the masks in the first place. Extrapolate the daily quantities across the planet, and this is an environmental nightmare in the making, unless we all take steps to stop it.