People all around the world have been taking extra precautionary measures as the coronavirus has spread from country to country. Toilet paper, hand sanitizer and masks are all being sold out as people stock up. China was no exception, as the production of face masks has increased by 12-fold resulting in a waste increase, ever since the coronavirus was discovered.
Waste quadrupled in the city of Wuhan in China, according to South China Morning Post. Over 200 tonnes of waste a day was recorded, as the masks and other sanitary products are being thrown away at an alarmingly high rate as the items are only single use items.
On top of this, items used by medical staff and people that already have the virus, such as masks and other protective gear are considered chemical waste when discarded. Which means the waste has to go to special facility that deals with medical and chemical waste correctly. However, this facility can only handle 50 tonnes a day of medical waste and cannot handle the 200 tonnes that is being produced. As a result, waste is piling up in some areas.
Some people living in the Wuhan are aware of this problem and say that they are keeping the mask waste down, as they use their masks as long as possible before disposing of them.
However, Wuhan is not the only region in China that is having an overload of face masks being used. Hong Kong has a massive amount of face masks littering the beaches, streets and hiking paths. Also, as the masks can’t be recycled because of hygienic reasons, the masks go straight to landfill and take years to break down.
Reference: South China Morning Post