LIBERA appeals against glove and mask littering during the exit from lockdown

The health emergency associated with the outbreak of COVID-19 has led to the need to use new products to protect personal health and the health of others. The LIBERA Project, led by SEO/BirdLife in collaboration with Ecoembes, is calling on citizens to care for the health of the planet by not discarding gloves and masks that might subsequently end up in natural spaces. Different studies indicate that some pathogens, including viruses, may use refuse as a vector for expansion.

In the exit from lockdown, the LIBERA Project, coordinated by SEO/BirdLife in collaboration with Ecoembes, is asking people to reflect not only on the importance of protecting personal health and the health of third parties but also to consider the health of the planet. This is particularly important given that everything suggests that the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which has given rise to the pandemic, has a zoonotic origin, meaning that it is related to human interaction with nature and, more specifically, with other animals.

The situation has resulted in the mass use of gloves and masks, and owing to the nature of these products, they cannot be reused. This is why the LIBERA Project is calling on society to exercise absolute responsibility to ensure that this waste is disposed of in litter bins or in domestic rest fraction bins, and not thrown on the ground in urban, suburban or rural areas. Such littering could result in a new type of highly-contaminating waste in natural spaces. In fact, this type of waste has already been found on some Chinese beaches and we must, therefore, strive to prevent the same thing happening on our beaches.

Avoid littering and deposit in the correct container

It is important not to economise in the use of the personal protective equipment (gloves and masks) recommended by the authorities, and to adhere to recommendations regarding quantity, quality and the use of such equipment. However, it is also important to be prudent regarding issues not supported by scientific evidence and equipment that has not been recommended by public authorities.

Once it has been ascertained that the waste generated is necessary, this waste must be correctly managed. Such waste should never be thrown on urban streets. It must be deposited in the correct containers. Used PPE (gloves and masks) should be disposed of in the grey container (rest fraction).