376 million face masks could be entering landfill every single month, according to a new survey commissioned by Virustatic Shield.
In the research, 74% of respondents said they were worried by the amount of single-use face coverings they saw discarded and littering the streets.
16% of respondents said they use at least two disposable face coverings per week, equating to 21.32 million each week for that section of the population.
A further 12% said they used five or more per week, which is the equivalent of 40.95 million face coverings being disposed of each week.
In total, the researchers estimated that 94 million face masks are being thrown away every single week.
The vast majority (75%) of those asked said they regularly dispose of their face coverings in the bin at home, meaning a very high percentage of that figure is likely to end up in a landfill.
It is estimated that the average disposable face mask will take 450 years to decompose, taking us to the year 2470.
Virologist Rob Lamkin-Williams said: ‘Single-use masks should NEVER be reused. Firstly, by repeatedly touching a face mask designed to block infectious virus particles from entering the respiratory system you run the risk of accidentally transferring them to your face via your hands as well as to other surfaces that may then be touched by other people.
‘Disposable face masks contain plastics meaning infectious particles will sit on the surface longer.
‘If the majority of us are throwing these masks in the bin, that poses a risk for refuse workers too.
‘The solution for me would be to swap disposable face masks entirely for one of the antiviral reusable coverings that can be worn repeatedly without risk of passing on the virus and don’t even need to be washed after every use, making them even more environmentally friendly.’
Photo Credit – Pixabay