A waste company have calculated that the public is discarding numbers that are beyond belief.
Since the pandemic began, essential supplies started to fall short. From hand sanitiser to soap it became difficult to purchase products of hygiene. But of the equipment that can shield us, facemasks shortly became the number one item following a UK wide mandate to wear them in indoor public areas.
Going from symbols of clinical hygiene to fashion statements, facemask sales skyrocketed and disposable variants eclipsed that of reusable ones.
Tradewaste.co.uk have calculated that the number littering the country totals 53 million per day and has proven problematic for both animal habitats and human health.
“If you walk around any street now you will see disposable face masks being blown around with leaves in the gutter – they are the new cigarette butt – people are simply chucking them after use. We know that 53 million are being sent to landfill each day – but just how many end-up elsewhere is the very scary part!“
They also said masks are being found in rivers, streams and oceans creating problems for environmental systems and food and water quality.
A large portion of facemasks are made from plastics including polypropylene, a melt-blown polymer as well as cotton ear loops which can take years to naturally decompose. Trade Waste says they can become “entangled around animals and wildlife, especially so when they end up in watercourses”.
Charlotte Green of the company said: “We as a country need better recycling methods to cope with the huge numbers of disposable masks being thrown away – many ending up in rivers and the ocean. If restrictions and mask use continue then this issue is going to get progressively worse – action needs to be taken today”
A solution is to purchase non-plastic machine washable reusable masks. Plastics seep into the water system and can find their way into the food cycle ultimately ending back on our plate.