Brits are sending over 1.6 billion non-biodegradable face masks to landfill every single month, according to new research conducted by shopping comparison site, finder.com.
During the pandemic, the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) has driven increased plastic pollution.
In response to high demand for PPE among the general public, health care workers, and service workers, single-use face mask production soared.
Based on a survey of 2,000 people, the researchers found that over half (51%) were using single-use blue surgical face masks. This is equivalent to 26.7 million people.
As these masks are intended to be single-use, the researchers have said it’s likely that people would use at last two masks a day.
Therefore, the UK could be sending as many as 54.5 million single-use face masks to landfill every single day.
To put this into context, we are currently using enough face masks to equal the same weight as 100 cars per day or cover the whole of London in under 2 days.
If the global population adheres to a standard of one disposable face mask per day after lockdowns end, the pandemic could result in a monthly global consumption and waste of 129 billion face masks and 65 billion gloves
Georgia Rose-Johnson, shopping specialist at finder.com said: ‘Wearing a mask is an important part of controlling the virus so it is encouraging to see many people wearing masks, however, our research has shown that many being used are single-use, cannot be recycled and take over 20 years to break down in landfill.
‘As masks are likely to be part of our daily lives for the foreseeable future, choosing reusable masks is a sensible way to help the environment and even keep costs down.
‘Choosing a reusable cloth mask will enable you to wear them multiple times and will help to decrease the number of masks heading to landfill.’
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