International, News, Waste & Resource Recovery

World waits as two billion plus masks enter the pollution stream

Divers working with the French non-profit organisation, Operations Mer Propre’s, which collects litter along the Côte d’Azur, has unearthed “COVID waste” dozens of masks, plastic gloves and   hand sanitiser containers on the Mediterranean seabed, mingled with disposable cups and aluminium cans.

The Australian WAAR industry was first alerted to the growing problem when Environmental Sustainability UK managing director, Dr Geoff Brighty, presented at the first WMMR Coffs Harbour Waste Webinar 2020 in May.

As the amount of global waste increased under COVID lockdown, Brighty noted that the volume of plastic being used to fight the coronavirus was now aggravating an already plastic flooded landscape.

Massive increase in disposable plastic

Meanwhile’s, Operations Mer Propre’s Joffrey Peltier has told global media he was worried that the discovery  implied a new kind of pollution, after the world’s population turned to single-use plastics to combat the coronavirus.

“It’s the promise of pollution to come if nothing is done,” Peltier said.

In France, Health Minister Olivier Veran has ordered 2 billion disposable masks from China a decision that Operations Mer Propre predicts will see more masks than jellyfish in the Mediterranean.

The group hopes that the images they are posting on their Facebook page will encourage people to embrace reusable masks and swap latex gloves for more frequent handwashing. “With all the alternatives, plastic isn’t the solution to protect us from Covid. That’s the message,” Peltier said.