With the government making wearing face masks mandatory in public places, we can expect a huge number of face masks being disposed on a daily basis.
However, we just didn't realise how many face masks Malaysians are throwing away daily.
High usage of face masks
According to a report by The Star Online
, Dr Theng Lee Chong, an environment and waste management specialist, revealed that Malaysians use and dispose more than ten million face masks a day
Dr Theng came to the conclusion based on his estimate on the working population in Malaysia, which is 22 million, and results from surveys that show that over 70 per cent of Malaysians were willing to face masks in public places.
The number could possibly even reach 15 million a day, Dr Theng revealed, with the reopening of schools and the usage of face masks used on medical premises and some by non-citizens.
That's a lot of face masks!
With so many face masks being used and disposed daily, have you wondered where all these used masks end up in?
According to Dr Theng, for countries with waste-to-energy (WTE) plants, all discarded masks get incinerated but sadly, in Malaysia, it ends up in the landfill.
“For countries without WTE and only landfills, such as Malaysia, they could face the same problems as we are facing now – that is, millions and billions of pieces of masks being disposed of in landfills,” he said.
He said it doesn’t help that most face masks are made from non-degradable materials and would remain in the landfill for hundreds or thousands of years.
“It is worse if they are thrown on on the street or flushed into the drains, clogging the waterways and causing floods, or channelled into the sea, threatening the sea creatures or broken down into microplastics that enter the human body through the food chain," he was quoted as saying.
There's nothing much we can do when it comes to the landfill, but Dr Theng told The Star Online
that the least we normal citizens could do as consumers is to dispose used masks into proper waste bin, and don’t litter.
Remember to do your part, yeah, guys? Dispose of your used face masks properly, and do not litter.