These days people are troubled by coronavirus infection worldwide. Masks, gloves, and sanitizers are being used worldwide to avoid this. They are being used once in many places and after that, they are being thrown here and there. Apart from the country, such cases are being seen in many other parts of the world.
People are throwing it away after using a one-time mask, they are not being disposed of properly, due to which they are contributing to spreading diseases. The problem of plastic waste was already being seen in the country and world, now in such a situation, these masks and gloves are becoming another major problem. Such news has also been prominently carried on the DWA website.
Look at Greece or the streets of New York and London, the problem of plastic waste will be seen everywhere. Plastic waste has also reached places like Soko Island, located a few kilometers from Hong Kong, there is no human being living on these islands, even then such garbage is being seen here. All kinds of NGOs are working in all places.
Gary Stokes of Oceania, an environmental protection group working on Soko Island, states that he has inspected the shores of duality three times, during which he has found 100 masks on the island along the coast. He says that never before had so many masks been found in such secluded places. They suspect that they have come from nearby Hong Kong or China. When Stokes was seen sweeping away hundreds of masks, it was only in 6-8 weeks that masks started trending in these countries.
Effect on wild animals
These days single-use plastic masks, gloves, sanitizer bottles and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) are being used on a large scale by doctors and medical staff as well as common people. All these are being used, but there is no better system for their disposal. Since they are not disposed of properly after use, the concern of those taking care of the environment has increased. They are concerned that the increase in this way will shock efforts against plastic pollution.
The disposal of waste in places like Greece is not very good already, so even if they are put in garbage cans, it will still be scattered somewhere in nature. Anesthesia Milieu, a researcher of marine organisms and research director of the Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation in Greece, says that if they are thrown on the road, gloves and masks will be washed away with rainwater to reach the sea.
If we talk about Hong Kong, there is hardly any waste spread here. Stokes explains that from there, the mask is reaching the sea in all other ways. They tell that sometimes masks reach the water by accidentally falling from people’s pockets and sometimes flying from the trash cans. They say pink dolphins and green turtles are found in Hong Kong waters, but if the water remains plastic for so long that algae and bacteria grow on it, it makes the turtles smell like food.
Even if PPE items are saved from reaching water or organisms, it is not easy to dispose of them properly. Joan Mark Simon, executive director of Zero West Europe, says that Europe’s recycling plan requires retailers and manufacturers to collect and treat plastic packaging.
Simon explains that since gloves do not fall into the packaging category, they cannot be placed in the dustbin containing household waste. Even gloves made of latex rubber are not very eco-friendly, there are chemical uses to make many that harm the environment if they are tarnished.
What are the remedies?
The WHO (World Health Organization) says that regularly washing hands provides more protection than wearing gloves. Similarly, the US Health Agency has stated that repeated use of cloth masks to the general public can provide adequate protection against Covid-19.
At the same time, work is going on to bring sustainable options of PPE that are used by health professionals. American carmaker Ford is making frequently used gowns that can be used up to 50 times. The University of Nebraska is testing whether medical masks can be completely cleaned and reused when treated with ultraviolet rays.