Please Throw Away Your Face Masks and Gloves

latex gloves

In the midst of a global pandemic, it’s not surprising that the use of disposable face masks and gloves has been on the rise. While these items of personal protective equipment (PPE) are helping to reduce the transmission of the coronavirus, they are also causing problems for our environment and waste streams when disposed of improperly. All face masks, gloves and other PPE should be tossed in the garbage.

Just like any litter, face masks and gloves pose a threat to our natural environment when littered. Please be sure to leave no trace when you go outside, and pack in what you pack out, including your PPE!

Face masks, gloves and other PPE items can transport the coronavirus. When these items are tossed into the recycling they are taken to a Materials Recovery Facility to be sorted by material type. Sanitation workers at these facilities have to remove these items from the sorting line — often by hand — because they are not recyclable. In addition, disposable masks with their elastic bands are more likely to get snagged in machinery where they will have to be removed by workers. These points of physical contact unnecessarily increase the chance of workers contracting the virus.

Ensure you do not litter any PPE. Leave nature better than you found it. When you do throw away your mask or gloves, help keep our essential sanitation workers safe by disposing of them in the garbage, not recycling.