In the quest to fight COVID-19, many countries have turned to single-use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as disposal face masks and gloves. In the UAE, the government required residents to wear face masks when in public which led to a huge surge for such items. Disposable face masks and gloves sold like hotcakes as people sought to protect themselves and others against the Coronavirus.
Disposable PPE threatens our ocean
The rise in the number of single-use PPE worldwide is threatening our beloved ocean. Millions of gloves and masks are thrown away every day. Although wearing face masks, gloves, and other forms of PPE help limit or prevent the spread of the virus, failure to dispose of them properly threatens the environment. Discarding masks and gloves in the streets, parks, and beaches could clog drains and wash into our waterways and ocean. The light materials of disposable PPE makes them easily blown by the wind or washed away by the rain. Hand sanitizer bottles and other Coronavirus-related wastes are washing up on our beaches while some end up on the ocean bed.
The world has yet to solve the problem of plastic pollution and now this. No wonder worldwide conservationists are sounding the alarm over this Coronavirus waste. Environmental groups from different parts of the globe fear that this will significantly escalate global pollution.
Before this pandemic, people worldwide have begun to steer away from single-use plastics like disposable plastic bags, utensils, cups, and straws. Environmentalists rejoiced with the people’s change in lifestyle as more folks choose to bring their own reusable bags, drinking containers, cutleries, and even straws. Sadly, the escalating pandemic waste has resulted in a major setback in the global fight against plastic waste.
Single-use PPE endangers aquatic life
The single-use plastic could endanger marine life and threaten wildlife habitats. Turtles, fish, dolphins, and porpoises might mistake them for food or get entangled in the debris. Filter-feeders such as whale sharks and humpback whales could accidentally ingest gloves and masks that are floating in the water. Ingestion of such items can harm aquatic life. Let’s say a fish that ingested Coronavirus-waste end up on the dining table, there is a possibility of getting toxic material into the body.
UAE’s approach to PPE disposal
The city of Dubai anticipated the huge volume of PPE waste materials. The waste management department at Dubai Municipality arranged to have all PPE sent and treated at Abdulmajeed Saifaie. An advisory was released in March 2020 calling all waste management partners to provide appropriate receptacles for these items. Police officers are authorized to fine people Dh1,000 if caught dumping used face masks and/or gloves on the road.
As the world faces a new normal in this age of pandemic, we have to learn how to adapt and cope with the changes. While we find ways to strengthen our line of defense against the virus, we should not neglect the environment. It is still our duty to protect Mother Nature including our ocean.
Nemo Diving Center is one with the world in protecting the ocean. We can help your group organize a scuba diving clean-up dive. Get in touch with us to know more about our courses, trips, and scuba diving dubai prices. Enjoy exploring the underwater world and at the same time make a positive difference for the environment.