While the amount of personal protective equipment found in the Mediterranean was admittedly small, the uptick in pollution from those items signals an ominous trend. Disposable masks, for instance, may feel like soft cotton, but they're almost all made from non-biodegradable material such as polypropylene. That means when the non-biodegradable material is discarded into a storm drain, it empties out into the rivers and seas. With a lifespan of 450 years, these masks are an ecological time bomb, given their lasting environmental consequences for our planet. Land-based activity accounts for 80% of ocean pollution, with 50% a direct result of single-use plastics. Now, we must act to avoid making the situation worse.
In UK efforts to curtail single-use plastics and plastic bags have been put on hold due to concerns about hygiene. The Centers for Disease Control's recent recommendations for reopening offices even advocated a dramatic increase in single-use plastics, arguing that communal snacks and coffee should be replaced by individually wrapped items. It's the promise of pollution to come if nothing is done.
In Hong Kong, where face masks piled up on beaches and nature trails, posing threats to marine life and wildlife habitats. 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.
With all the alternatives, plastic isn't the solution to protect us from Covid. (source: EcoWatch.com)
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