PPE (personal protective equipment) is significantly increasing our already, life threatening plastic pollution crisis. It has been estimated that nearly 194 billion disposable masks and gloves are being used worldwide EACH MONTH due to the coronavirus pandemic – (according to the Environmental Science and Technology). Disposable masks that end up in our oceans can take up to 450 years to completely decompose and to leave our ecosystems – (according to waste free oceans).
Even when PPE is disposed of correctly, we can’t recycle it as it is deemed as medical waste – so it will potentially end up in landfill or be incinerated, which leads to toxic fumes being let off and will increase the negative effects of climate change.
With masks now being mandatory in most places, conservationists are begging the public who are not high risk, to buy reusable masks so that we can cut down on potentially tens of thousands of extra plastic waste. Before the pandemic there was already nearly 295 billion pieces of plastic being thrown away each year, most of which was single use plastic which cannot be recycled.
Due to the Covid – 19 pandemic, our pollution rates are significantly increasing, and if we don’t manage the way we deal with the PPE, we could be damaging our planet at a much faster rate than expected.