Disposing of PPE responsibly is essential

Muriel Cozier | 01 July 2020

Today, 1 July 2020, marks the start of plastic free July. The aim is to focus on reducing the need for single use plastic.

The movement to reduce our reliance on single use plastic could be pushed into reverse as covid-19 has made the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) essential.

According to WWF, the incorrect disposal of PPE could pose a new threat to wildlife and the environment in general.  WWF says that an estimate from the Polytechnic of Turin, Italy, indicates that as lockdowns are eased, 1 billion masks and half a billion gloves per month will be needed. Such large quantities means that those using them must ensure that they are disposed of responsibly.

‘If only 1% of the masks were disposed of incorrectly and perhaps dispersed in nature, this would result in 10 million masks per month in the environment. Considering that the weight of each mask is about 4 grams this would entail the dispersion of over 40 000 kilograms of plastic in nature, a dangerous scenario that must be diffused,’ WWF said.

Donatella Bianchi, President of WWF Italy said, ‘Just as citizens have shown themselves to be responsible for following the government’s indications to contain the infection by staying at home, now it is necessary that they prove equally responsible in managing individual protection devices that must be disposed of properly and not dispersed in nature.’

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