Single-use masks, an “environmental issue” in France


Face masks have become ubiquitous in France since deconfinement earlier this year, and are now mandatory in all closed public spaces and in many major cities, including France, Marseille and Nice.Pénélope Vincent-Sweet, who works as a volunteer in waste prevention and management for France Nature Environnement, said there is a risk that in order to protect themselves from the coronavirus, people will forget the ecological and environmental consequences of the fall of masks in the street. .

“I think it’s very disappointing to see how, as soon as something happens that interferes with normal life, recently acquired ideas like protecting the environment or protecting social welfare, are simply put aside,” she declared. Login.

A July survey commissioned by VINCI Autoroutes corporate foundation, a foundation created to encourage responsible driving, has found that single-use masks have become a common waste found on the side of the road.

“The abandonment of used disposable masks on sidewalks is a new behavior linked to the context of the health crisis,” the foundation said in a statement.

Asked about this rude, even irresponsible behavior, 5% of French people admit to having already thrown or lost a mask on the public highway (and up to 11% among those under 25), the equivalent of more than 2 million people in the population. ”

Single-use masks are not recyclable and must be incinerated. Ms. Vincent-Sweet said the best option is for people to throw them in the trash.

“Any litter on the streets is problematic for the environment,” she says.

She advocated that instead of single-use masks, people use washable and reusable masks.

“In general, in our waste network, we fight against single use, which is sort of the epitome of unsustainability,” she said.

Free masks for schoolchildren?

A number of politicians, including government opposition figure and member of the French National Assembly Jean-Luc Mélenchon, called on the government to provide free masks to students upon their return to school (which had September 1).

Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said before the start of the school year that the masks for the students will not be provided by the government.

“We do the same thing as with the rest of society, whether in the public or private sector: the national education staff will have a mask provided by the institution”, he said in a statement. interview on the France 2 television channel.

And Ms. Vincent-Sweet supported this idea.

“There has been a big debate about giving free masks to school children. All the left-wing parties said yes, they must be free, it’s scandalous to do [parents] pay, ”she said.

“But I totally disagree, because it’s obvious that free masks are likely to be single-use masks, which would only multiply the use of single-use masks hugely. “

Disposable masks on airplanes

French airlines Air France and Air Corsica only allow passengers on their flights if they wear single-use surgical masks, and not physical masks.

Login sent an email to both companies asking why but did not receive a response.

Staff at the French coronavirus hotline said Login that surgical masks are needed on airplanes because they are more effective than material masks.

This is supported by an academic article published in Science Advances, a peer-reviewed scientific journal, which concluded that surgical masks were far superior to some hardware masks in reducing respiratory droplet transmission during speech.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is spread primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks, according to the World Health Organization.

Inexpensive measure of the effectiveness of the face mask to filter out droplets expelled during speech

Ms. Vincent-Sweet called for a sense of perspective on single-use masks.

She said that just because there is a global pandemic, people shouldn’t have forgotten how to sort their waste.

There is a fine of 68 € for anyone caught dropping disposable masks or gloves on the street in France, which can increase to 180 € in the event of late payment.

Find out more about masks in France:

Nabila Ramdani: masks have radically changed everyday life

Rules for wearing a mask at work in France

Back to school: will the French state provide masks for my children?


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