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New Instructure Alone Can’t Stop Face Mask Waste from Being an Eco-Disaster

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We have talked extensively about the need for new infrastructure to protect the environment. Building new processing plants is essential to recycle old waste. New landfills need to be constructed to stop waste from leeching into the earth.

Unfortunately, building new recycling and landfill centers isn’t enough on its own. Stopping eco-disasters needs to involve making some major changes to the way we live.

One of the biggest changes that we need to make is stopping unnecessary face masks from being wasted. Although stopping face masks from being wasted may not be as important as recycling building materials, it is still an important thing to focus on.

Stopping Face Mask Waste Goes Beyond Constructing New Recycling Plants and Landfill Disposals

The wearing of face masks and coverings has become a well-known sight on streets in cities across the world since the pandemic began. Unfortunately, masks littering the ground, including in gutters and public gardens, is now equally as prevalent.

We can talk about building new landfills, but this won’t be enough on its own. We also need to make sure mask waste is minimized.

To help stop the spread of COVID-19 infection, governments and health organizations have insisted that face masks should be worn. Infection is spread via respiratory symptoms, such as coughing and sneezing, but can also be transferred to a new host via water droplets issued while talking.

There is no doubt that face masks can help reduce the reach of the virus, but many of these solutions are being discarded without care and if this issue is not dealt with quickly, it could potentially contribute to an environmental disaster. The Conversation reports that this can be an environmental crisis that lasts for generations.

No appropriate advisories presently in place

Despite the fact that millions have been instructed to wear face-coverings, little to no guidance has been issued on the correct and safe way to recycle or dispose of them. While during lockdown, fewer masks are being purchased and used, this demand is set to increase as restrictions lift, resulting in the manufacturing of billions of masks to fulfil the world’s requirements each month.

The potential impact of face mask waste on our world

The first threat from discarded masks is the risk of spreading COVID-19. The virus is able, under certain conditions, to endure on a plastic surgical mask for up to a week, so masks which are left on the ground can potentially harm members of the public as well as waster collectors who encounter them.

Over extended time periods, such waste can also affect both plants and animals. Plastic waste is renowned for smothering environments and disrupting ecosystems. Animals have been known to choke on plastic litter, believing it is prey – instead, it damages their health. Smaller creatures can also become entangled and trapped in masks.

Plastic deteriorates and decomposes over time, becoming tiny fibres and particles that enter food chains. A single mask can break down into millions of chemical- and bacteria-infused particles, which can eventually end up in the systems of human beings as well.

Materials our masks are made from

For the most part, the masks in circulation are often being manufactured from plastic materials with a long lifespan. If they are discarded without care, they can remain in our environment for up to a century, causing a wide range of negative effects, both to people and our natural world.

Many face mask options are also designed to be disposable and cannot be reused, while others feature removable filters which when discarded also represent a danger to the environment. However, forward-thinking firms are already tackling these issues and have created reusable face masks that can be washed and worn again.

Other companies have crafted facemasks using recycled materials such as plastic water bottles, making it easier for them to be dealt with safely when no longer required.

Advice on face mask use

Wherever possible, choose a reusable product that can be washed, limiting the demand for non-recyclable face mask production. When you are outside, always carry a spare mask to ensure you don’t need to buy a disposable option to replace it. Always dispose of face masks responsibly when necessary and never litter them. If you can’t take it home with you, ensure you deposit it safely in a public bin.

With the continuing demand for face mask use across the world, disposing of these masks correctly and choosing more sustainable options is the best way to protect our environment from what is becoming a significant threat.

Have some inspiration about going green in all aspect of life. Views are my own.

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