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Cardiff Sees Huge Increase in Face Mask Litter


Litter pickers in Cardiff are seeing a huge increase in the number of used disposable face masks being spotted during their patrols, as the number of single use masks in Cardiff reaches 265,109 per day.

“The scale of the problem of carelessly dumped disposable face masks is massive – residents of Cardiff use 265,109 single use plastic masks a day and sadly some of these are being dropped, or simply fall from people’s pockets – sightings are increasingly common now”, explains Charlotte Green of Cardiff waste company

The number of disposable face masks that will be used across the UK in 2021 has been calculated at 19.5 billion. A proportion of these are discarded either carelessly or accidentally, meaning many end up being blown into woods making their journey into streams, rivers and eventually the sea.

What 19.5 billion single use face masks in numbers looks like:

  • 52 million a day (265,109 in Cardiff)
  • 1.6 billion a month in the UK which is 19.5 billion a year – weight equivalent to 5 ½ Eiffel Towers

The problem of how to dispose of masks is tricky, with no easy way to recycle and conflicting ways to handle potentially contaminated masks – the real problem is the littering caused by careless users.

Litter pickers across the country are reporting an increasing number of masks being collected during their rounds. Generally, litter picking groups are finding 1 mask for every 60m they patrol, especially near shops.

Max Ratcliffe, aged 6, from Menston in West Yorkshire took part in a home-schooling project to examine litter and its effect on the environment in his local wood. He was shocked by how many masks he spotted, with 1 dumped mask found every 50m on a path popular with dog walkers.

“I think it’s really bad. People should put them in the bin. Animals might eat them, and they might die”, reported Max, 6.

Used masks are not only a littering issue, but also a health and safety one:

“Used masks are tricky and you should not touch a used mask – they should be treated like any other potentially contaminated material and only handled professionally using the right protecting equipment”, explains Charlotte Green, “there are obvious risks associated with coming into contact with a used mask”.

“The way to tackle this potential environmental disaster is for everyone to move towards washable reusable masks, not only will this cut down on single use mask litter, but it also reduces the environmental impacts of manufacturing 19.5 billion plastic masks in the first place. As a country we have worked so hard to reduce plastic consumption, yet we are sleepwalking into another nightmare”, concludes Charlotte Green of Cardiff waste company

Ditch your Disposable Face Mask in 2021 and save £190

  • A single use disposable face mask costs 18p
  • Over a year using 3 per day this is £197.10
  • A washable face mask costs £1.40 (Pack of 5 is £6.99)
  • If you can use 5 masks by washing them, then over a year this is a saving of £190.11


Over the past 6 years, Rachel has been working specifically within the digital marketing space and has worked with some of the country’s top brands. During this time, Rachel was a key attribute to the success of our sister product, Recruitment Buzz, which has firmly established itself as one of the leading publications within the Recruitment sector. Drawing on her knowledge and experience, Rachel has developed a genuine understanding of how content can engage and compel an audience.

Having a passion for travel and culture, Rachel left her hometown of Cardiff to pursue studies and travel and after several years away, Rachel returned to Cardiff and firmly established herself within the development of Business News Wales. Rachel is now responsible for every aspect of web management, marketing and overall production of the Business News Wales brand.

Having learnt some invaluable skills within the marketing industry, Rachel is often called upon for her skills and knowledge of WordPress, HTML, email marketing software, Photoshop design and social media tools.


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