The amount of single use face masks that cannot be recycled in the UK will hit 6.3 billion in the 4 months to March weighing an incredible 20,000 tonnes – leading to claims that the laws on throw away masks need changing to prevent an environmental disaster.

“6.3 billion face masks is the amount the UK will throw in the bin in just 4 months – if the rules on mask wearing continue throughout 2021, this could top 19.2 billion – the numbers are absolutely mind blowing”, explains Charlotte Green from National recycling company

The eyewatering number of non-recyclable single use face masks being thrown away in the UK shows that 53m a day are sent to landfill,742 million a week or 1.6 billion a month

So, 6.3 billion will be binned in the 4 months to March
This will weigh 20,000 tonnes in total
In one year, we will use 19.2 billion which weighs as much as 5 1/2 Eiffel Towers

The main problem with disposable face masks is that currently as they are formed from heated and pressed plastics, they cannot easily be recycled. So, the only place they can end up will be in the ground.

“When you put your face mask in the bin, it will most likely end up in landfill. However, it gets even worse if the face mask is either deliberately or accidentally dropped – they are blown around and end up in watercourses, rivers and eventually the ocean. This impact can have awful consequences if wildlife comes entangled in the fibres, or ear loops”, explains Green.


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