Your Used Mask Needs to Make It to the Trash Can
They’re on beaches, in parking lots and on sidewalks. You probably won’t catch the coronavirus from a discarded mask, but the litter poses a risk to the environment.
By Marie Fazio
As more people wear masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, more personal protective equipment, or P.P.E., has been found as litter around the world.
The issue has prompted environmental organizations, including the Environmental Protection Agency, to sound the alarm. Some local governments, like Suffolk County in New York, have instituted fines for littering involving masks and gloves, and police departments, like the one in Swampscott, Mass., have warned that improperly discarding P.P.E. is a crime.
“This pandemic is causing the face of litter to change,” said Ms. Lowman, chief executive of Keep America Beautiful, a nonprofit group that organizes cleanups. “We’re seeing a real shift in what is in the litter stream.”