Despite millions of people being told to use face masks, little guidance has been given on how to dispose of or recycle them safely.
Each month, it is estimated that 129 billion disposable masks are used globally. The United Nations estimates an increase in pollution from pandemic waste will cost $40 billion in damage to tourism and fisheries industries across the globe.
Without better disposal practices, an environmental disaster is looming.
Steps to reduce the impact of wearing a face mask:
- Use reusable masks.
- Try to carry a spare, so if something goes wrong with the one, you don’t need to use or buy a disposable mask.
- If you do need to use a disposable mask, take it home (maybe in a bag if you have to take it off) and then put it straight into a bin with a lid. If this isn’t possible, place it in a proper public bin.
- Don’t put disposable masks in the recycling. They can get caught in specialist recycling equipment and be a potential biohazard to waste workers.
- Whatever you do, don’t litter them!