Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is essential to protect oneself from the pandemic. But, what happens to the PPE after it has solved its purpose, is the concern. It is unhealthy for the environment.
As reported by CNN, Mark Benfield told CNN that he was struck by seeing the number of discarded PPEs while taking his walk, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Mark is a professor who focusses on microplastic pollution, found that as Americans are using PPEs, they are also littering them on the streets in parking lots and parks, as reported by CNN.
Upon surveying the amount of PPE, Americans are littering, Benfield found that gloves are the most common of PPE waste, reported CNN.
All the PPEs which include gloves, masks, and wipes, are all plastics. When they are discarded in the environment it goes into sewer systems or water bodies. It breaks down into microplastics, which still attract pesticides and other harmful chemicals. And, then when animals of marine life eat it, it is not only the plastic that they are consuming but they eat the chemicals too.
Other experts too agree that this is an environmental concern.
CNN reported that Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said that PPE intends to help the public fight against a health challenge, and not to create another problem of plastic pollution.
The damage created by the littering of PPEs is not restricted to the marine ecosystem only, it goes beyond that, reported CNN.
There are markets to sell gloves, masks, and wipes, but there are no markets for used gloves, masks, and wipes. Moreover, they can not be sold. Thus, littering of PPEs will only make them caught in recycling machines thus hammering it.
As reported by CNN, Benfield reemphasized that masks and gloves do not belong in recycling.
After battling against COVID-19, and long after it is gone, we still have to protect the earth.
How to manage your garbage and recycling:
1. Do not throw garbage in public places.
2. In recycling bins, only clean materials are to be kept.
3. PPE is just regular trash and does not come under recycling.
4. Discard your PPE in a tight and secure garbage bag.
5. Carry a small bag or container with you if you feel the need to discard your PPE and could not find a trash can nearby, then throw it in your garbage.