top of page

The Effects of Masks on the Planet

mask pollution.jpg
UN logo 1.png

UN News

Global perspective

30 July 2020

Climate Change

Pollution driven by huge increase in mask sales.

The fight against plastic pollution is being hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, as the use of disposable masks, gloves and other protective equipment soars, but UN agencies and partners insist that, if effective measures are put into place, the amount of plastics discarded every year can be significantly cut, or even eliminated.

masks manta rays.jpg

 

The promotion of mask wearing as a way to slow the spread of COVID-19 has led to an extraordinary increase in the production of disposable masks: the UN trade body, UNCTAD, estimates that global sales will total some $166 billion this year, up from around $800 million in 2019.

Recent media reports, showing videos and photos of divers picking up masks and gloves, littering the waters around the French Riviera, were a wake-up call for many, refocusing minds on the plastic pollution issue, and a reminder that politicians, leaders and individuals need to address the problem of plastic pollution. 

https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/07/1069151

Mask bird.jpg

"When they're whole, wildlife's going to get tangled in it or the plastic's going to be ingested. They aren't going to biodegrade either, although they will break up, introducing more microplastics into the sea and the food chain."

Animal welfare groups are encouraging people with disposable masks to "snip the straps" after use to prevent animals getting caught in them.

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-54057799

bottom of page