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How Single-Use PPE are Destroying Our Oceans

Millions of people are wearing plastic masks, gloves and other forms of personal protective equipment to protect themselves from the coronavirus. People discard thousands of single-use PPE every day, from restaurant employees to medical workers. These things frequently end up in parks and parking lots and on sidewalks and front lawns. 

With that, dumped PPE always finds their way through our oceans as well. Bear in mind, all drains lead to the ocean, and this is one manner in which masks affect the environment, especially marine life. Here is some of the information you need to know about ocean-affecting PPE.


Numbers Behind PPEs

More and more protective equipments ends up in the ocean as the world fights the coronavirus pandemic. According to some statistics, we use 129 billion face masks and 65 billion plastic gloves per month worldwide, and divers and observers are spotting more of this discarded waste floating underwater, causing wildlife issues and washing up on shorelines around the world.


PPEs Affects the Marine Animals

PPE waste poses a variety of threats to marine life, much like any other plastic. Obviously, choking hazards include gloves, masks, empty hand sanitizer bottles and other debris. Scientists have also recently found that the scent of bacteria growing on ocean debris smells like turtle food, enticing them to indulge in masks and gloves. If the trash gathers, it may also be heavy enough to attract turtles from a distance by the smell it emits.

Additionally, PPE poses a hazard similar to that of six-pack rings made of plastic. If a turtle, bird or other marine animal gets stuck in a face mask strap, they can easily strangle themselves and die. If plastic is mistaken for food by an animal, which is unfortunately a common occurrence, the plastic can fill their stomachs. It may destroy them directly, or weaken them, rendering them more vulnerable to other threats.


PPEs Destroying Marine Environment

Floating plastic can act as a tool to transmit invasive organisms, poison and smother corals, and can interact with aquatic animals, leading to reduced mobility, contamination, amputation of the limbs, malnutrition, suffocation, and death.

Once plastic reaches the aquatic world, it does not vanish but it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces, wreaking havoc in the food web. It takes hundreds of years for a single face mask to break down into microplastic, the sort of microplastic that is now eaten by fish ending up in human’s table, so if you’re about to throw PPE improperly or in sideways, think twice as it will not only affect the marine life but also your health.


What Can You Help?

Through reusing cloth masks and skipping gloves when you shop or go out to eat, in the general public, you can often take action and eliminate your waste by opting to sanitize your hands, instead. While these actions alone can seem trivial, they together help to save our oceans.

Large-scale reform needs, of course, green initiatives. However in the light of the pandemic, recycling and sustainability are likely to be placed on the back burner by political officials. It is therefore important that you invest your dollars wisely and minimize, reuse and recycle any way you can. The destiny of the seas, eventually, lies in your hands.



Not only is COVID-19 a simple situation that harms humans, but the ocean as well. EPP is ideal for shielding humans from the virus, but as conservation organizations that sound an alarm after finding plastic face masks and gloves littered along the seafloor, it has a huge effect on the atmosphere and the natural world, including our oceans.

At  Kurt’s Rubbish Removal, we make waste from segregation to disposal manageable in Australia. Our team help safely remove all your waste at home without harming the environment, especially PPEs that is becoming a huge waste problem.

We provide all sorts of rubbish removal services to suit all your rubbish removal needs. For enquiries or to book a rubbish removal job, call us at 0428 255 438 or send us an email at info@kurtsrubbish.com.au.


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