Discarded face masks due to COVID-19 clutter and pile up along with other trash in Hong Kong’s beaches

Image captured from Sky News video
  • The cleanliness of Hong Kong’s beaches is now out of sight as several discarded face masks were discovered by authorities in the area
  • These items are the residents’ most-used item to protect themselves from the COVID-19
  • However, environmental groups express their concern about the inappropriate disposal of face masks, warning that the waste is posing a huge threat to marine life and wildlife habitats

Amidst the continuous spread of the COVID-19, authorities have recently found discarded face masks that were cluttered and piled along with other trash on Hong Kong’s beaches and nature trails.

Image captured from MSN (Veuer) video

This scene is quite saddening especially for the environmental community; given the fact that most of Hong Kong’s 7.4 million population have been putting on single-use face masks everyday to protect themselves from the disease. In addition, recent data also shows that over 131 people have been infected in the city and among them, four have succumbed to the virus.

But even so, various environmental groups stay firm on their stand and have also been quick to address the harmful effect of the inappropriate waste disposal to marine life and wildlife habitats.

“We only have had masks for the last six to eight weeks, in a massive volume… we are now seeing the effect on the environment,” said Gary Stokes, founder of the environmental group Oceans Asia, as per a Reuters story.

Stokes also cited the example of Hong Kong’s isolated and uninhabited Soko Islands where he was alarmed to find out that after initially discovering 70 discarded masks on a 100-meter stretch of the beach, 30 new ones added up a week later.

Image captured from MSN (Veuer) video

Meanwhile, in the same story, Laurence McCook, head of Oceans Conservation at the World Wildlife Fund in Hong Kong, have expressed his dismay as well over the matter.

“Nobody wants to go to the forest and find masks littered everywhere or used masks on the beaches. It is unhygienic and dangerous,” he said.

The masks are also made of polypropylene, a type of plastic, so it is not going to break down easily as explained by Hong Kong’s Plastic Free Seas Founder Tracey Read.

But thanks to the concern of these environmentalists, conservation groups have reportedly organized beach clean-ups to tackle the trash to immediately respond to the problem and minimize the harmful effect it may cause.

“People think they’re protecting themselves but it’s not just about protecting yourselves, you need to protect everybody and by not throwing away the mask properly, it’s very selfish,” Read said.