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Pandemic-related waste raises environmental concerns

Pandemic-related waste raises environmental concerns

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a significant increase in medical waste such as masks, gloves, and hygiene products, putting environmental health at risk, an expert said Tuesday.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Zeynep Ceylan, a professor of environmental engineering at Ataturk University, said many things have changed, such as people’s consumption habits, and medical waste has increased more than ever during the COVID-19 period.

“Now, very new concepts such as ‘environmentally conscious consumer’, ‘green consumer’ and ‘eco consumer’ have emerged. Everyone needs to be extremely careful about the environment,” she noted.

Ceylan said purchasing energy saving products should become a widespread habit and buying packaged food should be reduced to keep the environment sustainable.

Citing data on face mask and glove waste, she reminded that last year, three million masks were used every minute around the globe and the amount of waste caused by masks and gloves reached 194 billion monthly in the same period.

“In 2020, 72,000 tons of medical waste was generated in the world…If we can’t manage medical waste, it means we are heading towards a disaster,” she warned.

She added that in Turkey, around 50 million dirty masks are recorded daily and last year, 198 tons per day of medical waste was generated.