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The environmental impact of COVID – 129 billion masks

The ‘C’ word, COVID has come at a massive cost to society, but it’s not the only cost. Our environment is also paying the penalty. This mask will outlive the seagull that it has trapped, by over 400 years!

The environmental impact of COVID – 129 billion masks

National Recycling Week 8-14 November

Sheree Marris

The ‘C’ word, COVID has come at a massive cost to society, but it’s not the only cost. Our environment is also paying the penalty. This mask will outlive the seagull that it has trapped, by over 400 years! The true environmental impact of COVID.

Sad fact
129 billion disposable face masks are thrown
into landfill every month.

New research shows 129 billion disposable face masks are thrown into landfill every month. That doesn’t take into consideration the numbers that are littered and trap wildlife including this seagull.  

Disposable masks are also made up of polypropylene, polyethylene, and vinyl, capable of releasing chemical pollutants and nasty nano-plastics into the environment.

I waited patiently trying to get close to throw my jacket over the bird so I could cut the mask off, all to no avail. You can see the straps are already cutting off the circulation to the birds leg. It will eventually drop off, risk infection and make the bird more vulnerable to predators and no doubt cut short its life.

Sheree Marris, UCF Director

This is why you should consider investing in reusable masks where possible and practical (we understand that in some industries and circumstances this isn’t possible) and if you can’t please cut the straps on disposable masks.

Please take a moment to think about your contribution to the environmental impact of COVID and how you recycle in your day to day life – we can all make better small choices that result in a huge collective impact.

For more information on the Unico Conservation Foundation projects and initiatives, visit www.unicoconservationfoundation.org.au.