After months of the emerging Corona virus crisis that plagued the world in panic and paralysis, a new environmental problem appears on the sidelines, which lies in how to get rid of tens of billions of masks that people use.
According to the American scientific newspaper “Environmental Science and Technology”, the world consumes an estimated 194 billion masks and gloves per month, since the fear of the virus spreading rapidly, which infected millions and killed hundreds of thousands.
Most disposable personal protective equipment is made from a variety of plastics, including polypropylene, polyethylene, and vinyl..
Plastic masks, most of which end up in seas and oceans, could take up to 450 years to fully degrade and leave the marine ecosystem, according to the West Free Oceans Foundation, which collects and recycles marine litter through collaboration with fishermen and companies..
These frightening facts prompted environmental activists in France to warn that “if reliance on single-use masks continues at the current rate, the number of masks in the Mediterranean may exceed the number of jellyfish.”“.
But even when disposed properly, it is believed that PPE cannot be recycled because it is considered medical waste, and it ends up in either landfill or incinerators, which could lead to toxic fumes and contribute to climate change..
With the fact that wearing masks has become mandatory indoors in most countries of the world, conservationists are urging the purchase of reusable masks, to prevent the accumulation of tens of thousands of tons of plastic waste.
“The most important thing for all of us is health and stopping the spread of the virus. But most of us are not in the high risk category, and the government’s advice is clear that face masks should be used,” says Julian Kirby of Friends of the Earth International Foundation for the Conservation of the Environment. Reused“.
He continued, “We can reduce the amount of plastic we use at the same time that we take care of our health.”