Respirator masks are contributing to plastic pollution

The COVID-19 pandemic is taking lives, inconveniencing millions and wreaking havoc with the global economy. It’s also contributing to plastic pollution in places like Hong Kong. Countless surgical and N95 respirator masks that local people use to protect themselves from the novel coronavirus are discarded improperly, which means large numbers of these masks end up on beaches and in the sea, intensifying the pollution problem occurring off mainland China. Once there, they pose a further threat to marine creatures that may mistake them for food or could get entangled in them.

We only have had masks for the last six to eight weeks, in a massive volume. We are now seeing the effect on the environment. And the volume of waste is expected to grow exponentially as locals continue to use and discard disposable face masks in coming weeks and perhaps months unless the viral outbreak abates. The masks are made of polypropylene, which take a long time to break down in the environment. (source:

Across much of the planet right now disposable face masks are being used and discarded as people do their best to protect themselves against the pernicious coronavirus. People think they’re protecting themselves, but it’s not just about protecting yourselves. You need to protect everybody and by not throwing away the mask properly, it’s very selfish. Nobody wants to go to the forest and find masks littered everywhere or used masks on the beaches. It is unhygienic and dangerous. People should consult with their local authorities to learn about the proper ways to dispose of surgical masks correctly. The surge in mask-based rubbish highlights serious weaknesses in waste management and public education.

While following the guidelines of your country's health authorities to stay healthy during this pandemic, help the environment, reduce disposable plastic.

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