Masks, gloves and wipes abandoned everywhere, the new waste and incivility at the time of the coronavirus

    Masks, gloves and wipes abandoned everywhere, the new waste and incivility at the time of the coronavirus

    It is a phenomenon that is growing more and more. Gloves, masks, wipes, paper handkerchiefs, and bottles of disinfectant are thrown onto sidewalks, roadsides, and even into waterways. More and more municipalities and citizens are denouncing clandestine deposits of "coronavirus" products. It matters little that these wastes are harmful to the planet and dangerous to health.

    These "new waste" which, we recall, should be closed in a bag and thrown in the unsorted bin, are there for all to see and are becoming a global problem. Already at the beginning of the epidemic in Europe, disheartening and shocking images arrived from the Asian coasts near Hong Kong where several associations had found hundreds of masks and gloves on the beaches, launching a warning and a general alarm on the pollution caused by the pandemic.

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    Now the phenomenon is spreading in all the countries affected by the restrictions, none excluded, with institutions and associations that try to raise awareness and denounce such behavior.

    «We receive the first reports of abandonment on the street and in the vicinity of some supermarkets of gloves and disposable surgical masks. In anticipation of a phase 2 with the reopening of small and medium-sized companies, we appeal to some offices to the civic sense and responsibility of citizens but above all it is important to start an information and awareness campaign following the indications of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità ( Iss) where it is specified how to dispose of anti-infection devices such as masks and gloves. These items are all to be given in the undifferentiated collection. It is a good idea to wrap this waste in two or three bags, to make sure nothing spills, and to seal them tightly. To close the bag it is good to use disposable gloves, which will then go into another bag that will always go to the undifferentiated collection ». Mariateresa Imparato, president of Legambiente Campania declares «We remember - he concludes - that sanitary devices are very resistant and could last in the environment for tens of years as happens for thicker plastic bags or more resistant bottles of liquids. Empowering and informing citizens to combat rudeness and incivility is essential above all to avoid finding ourselves in the autumn, when we will resume our environmental campaigns, having to free squares, streets and gardens from lots of gloves and masks in addition to the usual plastic waste ".

    Since confinement, people have protected themselves. But they are unaware of the damage they are doing to the environment by throwing gloves, masks, wipes or handkerchiefs everywhere. It is truly shocking. And it is also a risk of contamination. We find a lot of this waste on the surface. But also in rivers. Harmful pollutants, especially in this period when the water level is low and where the concentration of hazardous substances is likely to increase. Especially since some products, such as disinfectants, are also poured into the sinks and toilets of people to end up in the environment, ”said Ann-Laure Furnella of the Belgian association Aer Aqua Terra.

    Also because in this period people are maniacally disinfecting everything, from hands to shopping, from laundry to the house and inevitably these substances reach the waterways, which then reach the sea.

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    Before the pandemic broke out and put the world on stand-by, plastic pollution and throwaway had become very hot topics that were starting to breach the sensibilities of citizens so much as to induce the EU to ban crockery . Now, not even two months later, the problem of the marine litter, waste and animals exterminated by our neglect seems a distant memory.

    Now man is the threatened animal, the threat is imminent and under the eyes of all. Masks, gloves, bottles of disinfectant become our only protections against the invisible enemy. And once they have done their duty, to protect us, in the desire to remove the potential virus with which we may have come into contact, it does not matter anymore to abandon them where it happens. It doesn't matter anymore to pay attention to where they are disposed of. The important thing is to get rid of it immediately, quickly. Even on the street. Even if it is made of plastic. Even if potentially infected.

    Priorities and points of view change, but maybe not. The real problem is always the same, the real virus is us, our incivility, our selfishness and our lack of respect towards others and what surrounds us.

    But whoever throws them on the ground is not aware of the damage it does to the environment, but above all also to health: all this, in fact, increases the risk of contamination. Protecting ourselves in this way is counterproductive and completely useless, if we do not properly dispose of the devices that help us reduce the infection.

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