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Coral reefs in the Philippines covered with protective masks.
Protective masks against the new coronavirus are slowly becoming a serious environmental problem. Piles and piles of masks and other protective equipment, among other things, are now flooding the coral reefs off the coast of Manila.
A study published last September found that the Philippines consumes 49 million protective masks and generates 353 tons of medical waste per day.
According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), at the height of the covida-19 pandemic, the Philippine capital is expected to generate up to 280 tons of additional medical and protective waste per day, and the UN says about 75 percent of masks and pandemic-related waste will end up. in landfills or at sea.
Environmental groups warn that the plastic inside the protective masks is disintegrating and particles are entering the marine life system. In doing so, they call on the Philippine Government to improve the management of medical waste to prevent further pollution of the seas.
Lost all progress.
"Look at the rubbish brought to the surface by divers. Whole piles of blue protective masks. And a plastic visor, plastic bottles, a tarpaulin. The question is, what happens to this waste?" Philippine correspondent Howard Johnson asks in a BBC report.
Johnson found the said waste with divers from the Anilao Diving Center at a popular diving spot in Batangas. "It wasn't that bad at the time. We have seen smaller individual pieces of plastic. But now, wherever you look, it is plastic," diver Shala Caliao said.
UN Environment Program (UNEP) Director Inger Andersen warns against uncontrolled pollution if this increase in medical waste is not addressed reasonably.
"Masks, gloves and other disposable equipment are a key part of the response to covid-19. But these plastic wastes threaten to make all the progress made in the fight against single-use plastics, microplastics and marine litter - especially in countries with weak waste recovery infrastructure, exhausted,” Andersen warned.
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