Covid pandemic leads to 'inevitable' plastic waste rise

A rise in single-use plastic waste is an inevitable result of the pandemic, an environmental consultant has said.

Most PPE, such as masks and gloves, can only be used once, and the majority ended up in landfill or burnt, according to Rebecca Colley-Jones.

But she also said recycling levels in Wales have stayed consistent, though not improved, this year.

Research suggests 20,000 tonnes of plastic masks could be in UK landfill sites by the spring of 2021.

Many of the recycling centres across Wales' local authorities have stayed open and, although they have have had to alter their structures to meet social-distancing guidelines, centres such as Llandygai in Bangor have been extremely


With more PPE being used each day, Gwynedd Council has asked people to ensure they dispose of litter in an appropriate manner.

Catrin Wager, a councillor for the Menai ward in Bangor, said: "Anecdotally, I do feel that we see more masks lying around on the floor.

"This is a worry and I ask people, please, they are not to go into recycling boxes, they are to go into the municipal waste and we must make sure that happens responsibly."

"There are alternative options now. Masks that can be re-worn or washed are also a way of giving a boost to the local economy."

According to research carried out for industry website Trade Waste, there could be as much as 20,000 tonnes of plastic masks in landfill sites across the UK by spring.

Ms Colley-Jones said this rise was "inevitable" off the back of the Covid-19 pandemic as "we just had to do what we had to do".

She said the year would go down as a "blip" in the trend for increased recycling, due to more plastic products being sent to landfill or burnt.

However, she did not think recycling figures would get much worse in 2020, as more people were working from home and thinking about where their waste goes.