As mask mandates make a comeback, the impact of disposable masks is just now becoming clearer.
1.6 billion disposable masks ended up in the earth’s oceans in 2020, according to a study.
The report, by the Hong Kong-based marine conservation group OceansAsia, title “Masks on the Beach,” also estimated that roughly 5,500 tons of plastic pollution entered the ocean in 2020 from masks.
The figure is equal to 7% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a mass of plastic debris floating in the ocean that is twice the size of Texas.
A disposable mask takes nearly 450 years to fully break down.