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Environmental Waste From Non-reusable Face Masks

  • by Nvio Team

‘The Current New Normal’ involves having or encouraging us to wear masks and face coverings in most public spaces - a crucial role in the steps to control the spread of COVID-19.

Mitigating the fallout of the global pandemic is, of course, absolutely fundamental. However, although masks are of great help when it comes to limiting the pace of the virus’s spread, they are not a perfect solution to the problem we're contributing towards with non-reusable face masks: Pollution. Unfortunately, the use of single-use, disposable face masks bring with it a whole host of unforgivable environmental problems.

Face Mask Waste = The Problem

Even before face coverings became a required, we were beginning to see the consequences of disposable mask use. It was already apparent these one-time use masks create an enormous amount of plastic waste. These discarded masks could be spotted both on land and at sea and since then, the problem has only gotten worse. The disposable face masks are now responsible for a staggering amount of non-recyclable waste.

According to the historical data uploaded by United Nations, approximately around 75 per cent of the used masks, as well as other pandemic-related waste, will end up in landfills, or floating in the seas. This waste, not only causes damage to our environment, also to the tourism and fisheries industries. It's estimated to have reached $40 billion worth of financial cost damage.

There are concerns the COVID-19 pandemic present a huge blockade obstructing our progress towards cutting down the world’s plastic usage. Many of these fears have, indeed, become an alarming reality.

Pollution Driven by Huge Increase in Face Mask Sales

In an alarming article published by the Science magazine, the true extent of the world’s face mask waste management issue was revealed. The impact COVID-19 has had on global plastic production includes the following:

  • ‘Single-use face mask production in China soared to 116 million per day in February, about 12 times the usual quantity.’

  • Some governments actively encourage their citizens to use disposable masks on certain occasions. As a result, ‘the World Health Organization has requested a 40% escalation of disposable Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) production.’ At the peak of the pandemic, hospitals in Wuhan were producing 6 times more single-use plastic-based medical waste (including disposable surgical masks) than before the pandemic.

  • ‘Improper disposal of just 1% of face masks translates to more than 10 million items, weighing 30,000 to 40,000 kg.’

As a result, ‘If the global population adheres to a standard of one disposable face mask per day, after lockdowns end, the pandemic could result in a monthly global consumption and waste of 129 billion face masks and 65 billion gloves.’

The Importance of Lessening the World's Face Mask Waste

As the issue of face mask waste becomes an ever-increasing concern, we as individuals need to take a stand and consider the direct impact our decisions have on our planet. By choosing to use single-use masks, we are contributing to this ever-expanding global non-recyclable waste crisis.

It is crucial for all of us to educate ourselves about the true extent of the world’s plastic problem, and understand the detrimental impact of our choice of a single-use face mask. We need to recognize the importance of finding a good-quality, reusable. SUSTAINABLE mask.

To lessen the world’s waste, we need to use masks that tick all the boxes - opt for a mask that is both reusable and sustainable, while also being able to provide us with daily protection from the virus.

Choosing the Right Mask

When choosing a mask, you should not have to forsake sustainability in favour of protection or vice-versa.

Our partner Cambridge Mask Co, takes immense pride in the fact that they can help our consumers make ethical, environmentally-conscious actions. Using a reusable Cambridge Mask helps limit pandemic-related waste, as they are both completely reusable, and offer an exceptional level of protection.

The Cambridge masks have gone through rigorous testing procedures, and have been proven to filter 99.9% of viruses and bacteria. Furthermore, the first layer of the filter system catches larger pollution particles such as dust and PM10. It’s then backed up by the Three-Ply Micro Particulate which stops nearly 100% of smaller particulate matter such as PM2.5 and PM0.3. The inner filtration layer is made from 100% pure activated carbon cloth, originally developed by the UK Ministry of Defence for chemical, biological, and nuclear warfare protection. The carbon filter is then treated with silver to ensure 99% of harmful pathogens are removed and killed. This multi layered filter system means the Cambridge Mask performs better and lasts longer than any other mask on the market.

Environmentally-friendly Packaging

What’s more, along with the mask itself being a fantastic environmentally-friendly option, the packaging also adheres to this same ethos. At Cambridge Mask Co, sustainability is top priority, and that is why they are committed to using eco-friendly packaging.

If you wish to commit to using less disposable plastics in your life, you can easily take a great first step by purchasing a high quality, reusable and environmentally sustainable face mask.


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