Is plastic pollution getting worse due to masks and gloves?

While masks and gloves are stopping the virus to be spread they might be the cause for another big problem

Since the worldwide lockdown began we gradually assisted to a revival of the natural world. Air is clearer, wild animals enjoyed the freedom of a quieter world and the wide hole in the ozone layer has – miracously – healed.

However, while environmentalists are thrilled of such pollution decrease during past months, another threat is looming ahead. 

This pandemic has produced an enormous amount of masks and gloves. The biggest concern is how people are wrongly disposing them contaminating either cities and oceans. 

The latest WWF report warned that “ “if just 1% of the masks were disposed of incorrectly and dispersed in nature, this would result in as many as 10 million masks per month polluting the environment.”

More than 50 countries have made compulsory to wear masks in public places. The World Health Organization urged the Government to ramp up production of protective equipments for health workers. 

Every month nearly 80 million masks are needed globally as well as 76 million of gloves and 1.6 face visors and goggles. Such production is necessary. 

The WWF stressed the point “Considering that the weight of each mask is about 4 grams, this would result in the dispersion of more than 40 thousand kilograms of plastic in nature”. Having people disposing of plastic masks and gloves across the world environmentalists are therefore fearing a serious challenge ahead. 

Moreover, as Portugal and other countries are reopening beaches, oceans and sea coasts are threatened to receive millions of plastic COVID-equipments this year. As already  8 millions of plastic trash sink yearly into the ocean, higher numbers are foreseen for the upcoming years. 

Although the trade association of European Plastics Converters urged EU legislation to postpone the Single-Use plastic directives due to the pandemic, the EU Commission spokesperson for environmental matters bounce back affirming it’s too early to estimate a real impact of plastic waste generated by the pandemic in 2020. 

Besides the official dispositions, each of us must make an effort to avoid this – other – consequence. If we adopt careful disposal of our masks the impact on nature will definitely be very minimal. 

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