Stop tossing used face masks on the street, say Dutch environmental groups
Environmental organizations united in Nederland Schoon teamed up with the Plastic Soup Foundation for a campaign urging Netherlands residents to safely and properly dispose of their face masks.
Since the urgent advice to wear face masks in public spaces in the Netherlands, more and more of the disposable variants have ended up as litter on the streets, Helene van Zutphen, director of Nederland Schoon, said to NOS. Water management companies previously sounded alarm bells over the increasing amount of masks and gloves being flushed down the toilet, which were likely to cause millions of euros in damage.
These face masks are harmful to nature, Van Zutphen stressed. "What many people don't know is that it often also contains plastic. Sometimes it looks like fabric or paper, but it can still contain plastic, which never decays."
With the associated health risks, passersby are also less likely to pick up a mask they see lying on the street and throw it in a bin. Those who want to pick up this waste, are advised to be careful.
"If you want to pick them up, do it with a toothpick or gloves. There's a small chance you could get infected if you're not careful," Van Zutphen said.
The environmental organizations worry that this new form of litter will only increase once the face mask advice becomes mandatory.