The government has urged people to switch from disposable masks to reusable coverings.
To help prevent the spread of Coronavirus, face coverings – disposable or reusable – are now mandatory on public transport, in shops and in some other enclosed spaces in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The official guidance for England is to wear a reusable, washable face mask where possible.
Disposable face coverings – often containing the plastic polypropylene – should be put in “black bag” waste bins or a litter bin when outside. These should not be put in a recycling bin as they cannot be recycled through conventional recycling.
Environmental groups say millions of single-use masks are being dumped outdoors, blighting towns and the countryside. They pose a fatal danger to wildlife and cause damage to the ecosystem as a whole. Throw away, single-use masks cannot biodegrade, although they will break up to introduce more microplastics into the environment. Apart from clinical medical settings, there are plenty of environmentally friendly, reusable alternatives.
Please be mindful of the environment when purchasing and using face masks.