It seems like only yesterday that a massive campaign against single-use plastic straws was trending. The much forgotten anti-straw trend was based on astronomical numbers; a suggested 500 million straws used each day in the US alone, with more than half a billion plastic straws being consumed and discarded, every day around the entire globe.
An estimated 8.3 billion plastic straws had come to pollute the planet’s beautiful beaches. The backlash against the straws appeared to be drive by the horrific impacts on the marine environment in particular.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) in 2020, in particular face masks, have become a new genre of pollution. The majority of face masks being purchase and disposed of are single-use surgical masks made of melt-blown fabric manufactured from polypropylene, a type of thermoplastic. The vast majority of all disposable face masks being consumed have two outer layers with a filter between them (polypropylene), made from nonwoven plastic fibres.
The paper COVID-19 Pandemic Repercussions on the Use and Management of Plastics published June 20, 2020 warns that a “monthly estimated use of 129 billion face masks and 65 billion gloves globally, is resulting in widespread environmental contamination.”
194 billion face masks and gloves equates to well over 6 billion face masks being consumed and discarded each and every day.
Based on the aforementioned paper, six months of face masks alone – equates to seven hundred seventy-four billion, while 12 months of consumption, equates to a stunning one trillion five hundred forty-eight billion face masks.
Meanwhile, “Canada alone has ordered more than 153 million N95 respirators, almost 400 million surgical masks and 18 million non-medical face masks. That doesn’t include demand from the private sector.” As a new emerging market, trees (biological communities invisible to the humancentric eye) cannot only be sacrificed on the altar of “green energy”, we can also pulverize them into face “ecofriendly” masks.
What happened to all those who cared about our environmental crises? That of climate change, biodiversity and ocean pollution?
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