By now, face masks have become our way of living, and we step out with them every time we leave out since the onset of the pandemic. Since COVID hit the country, people have been using face masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment (PPE) to limit the spread of the virus. Though it is an indispensable part of our lives, that doesn’t mean that we keep ourselves protected at the cost of depleting our planet. It is assessed that 129 billion facial masks and 65 billion gloves are being utilized worldwide consistently and that consistently 3 million single-use masks are being tossed out. Assuming the information is a reliable marker, then, at that point, we can expect that around 75% of utilized masks and other dispensable COVID-19-related defensive gear will ultimately wind up in either landfills or the world’s seas and oceans.
These statistics are alarming. Face masks and personal protective equipment are indispensable for healthcare workers and hospital staff to protect themselves from contracting the virus. Unfortunately, this can result in a major waste recycling crisis. We have, as of now, seen reports of marine life, including seabirds, ingesting these things or becoming snared in them. The pandemic has prompted a blast of single-use plastics – it has uncovered precisely how frantically we want to track down better methods of dealing with face mask pollution.
How can the problem of face mask pollution be solved?
1. The less plastic utilized equals, the less plastic disposed of. Consequently, the main rule to forestalling plastic contamination is not utilizing it if possible. Clearly, with regards to PPE, this isn’t consistently a choice. Nonetheless, it is encouraged to utilize reusable face masks produced using biodegradable materials when conceivable. Indeed, even in a twofold mask setting, when you decide to utilize one reusable mask and one that is single-use, you are as yet decreasing your mask waste considerably, which is better than anything else.
2. Because of the plastics used to create single-use masks and the danger of contamination, reusing disposable masks isn’t presently an effectively open choice. Hence, masks should be treated as clinical waste, and this clinical waste should be appropriately tossed in the rubbish. Assuming they are not, they can, without much of a stretch, get unceremoniously passed up the breeze into our streets and sewers, which is in a real sense the most noticeably terrible thing that could occur on the planet. The best spot for this plastic at present is in a standard garbage bin and sadly, at last in landfills, that is until we can concoct a more reasonable arrangement. In the meantime, make a point to have a mask cord, or holder figuratively speaking, which you can wear around your neck to guarantee your mask doesn’t tumble off or take off and wind up on the ground in someplace.
3. plastic contamination is severely impacting our current environment and hurting our natural life. Disposing of masks with the ear ties still unblemished can hinder creatures and marine life, who can get caught in them. Therefore, it is of most extreme significance that assuming we do nothing else for the other living animals possessing our planet; we should try to remove the ties of our face masks before appropriately discarding them.
4. Reusable cloth masks seem OK when you’re making the rounds. Clinics and hospitals utilize disposable face masks given patient and staff well-being. Utilizing expendable masks takes out the danger of patient-to-patient pollution. While clinics and hospitals dispose of disposable facial masks, we don’t need to. We can use them a couple of times as long as they are dry and make an impermeable seal around your nose and mouth. Dispose of them when they become wet or ruined. A superior choice is to put resources into a modest bunch of cloth masks that you can wash and wear more than once. Think about where you’ll wear your fabric mask. Most fabric masks function admirably in all settings.
5. In its July examination of plastics, sustainability and improvement, UNCTAD resolved that worldwide trade policies likewise play a significant part in lessening contamination. Numerous nations have presented guidelines that notice plastics throughout the last decade, a mark of developing concern encompassing the issue, yet, the UNCTAD examination brings up, for trade strategies to be successful, composed global standards are required. “How nations have been utilizing trade policy to battle plastic contamination has for the most part been uncoordinated, which restricts the viability of their endeavours, says Ms Coke-Hamilton. “There are limits to what any nation can accomplish all alone.”.
Lead by example: nations that have come up with solutions for face mask pollution
- Turkey was right on time to handle the issue of securely disposing of single-use masks with a reminder conveyed to all organizations requiring separate waste disposing vessels in every open region and entry and ways out or buildings. The waste should be dealt with independently from other trash and saved in a storeroom for 72-hours to alleviate the chance of contamination.
- In England, a new drive has begun by the Wilko chain of stores, which will give drop-off containers to individuals to dispose of their disposable face masks securely. In the meantime, a new initiative was sent off in the U.K. on Earth Day by Waterhaul, which spends significant time in reusing plastic waste and fishing nets from the sea and changing them into useful items. Their most up to date attempt includes repurposing expendable masks into litter pickers in what will be a genuine mutually advantageous arrangement, particularly when used to get littered masks.
While face masks will stay here for long, face mask pollution is a rising issue. Therefore, what can be done is find solutions to face mask pollution. However, plastic pollution is nothing new. It has been prevalent for decades. But the problem with face masks is that they are made up of multiple layers of plastic, which is hard to recycle. Therefore, they can be a significant cause of contamination and could be detrimental to the ecosystem. Therefore, we need to ensure that these masks are creating a proper garbage bin and not being littered here and there, where they can make their way into sewers, where they could wind up in our seas and oceans.