Coronavirus: Protective Clothing

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 31st July 2020.

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Photo of Lord Jones of Cheltenham Lord Jones of Cheltenham Liberal Democrat

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the environmental impact of the disposal of single-use face masks once the wearing of face coverings in shops is made compulsory on 24 July.

Photo of Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park The Minister of State, Department for International Development, The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Minister of State

We have not carried out an assessment on the environmental impact of the disposal of single-use face masks.

Waste management, including disposal, is regulated through the environmental permitting system in England, which seeks to protect the environment and human health.

Face coverings that will be required in shops are not the same as the single-use surgical masks or respirators used by healthcare and other workers as part of their PPE. These should continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace. Instead, the latest Government advice on face coverings provides instructions on how people can make and care for reusable face coverings at home using scarves or other washable textiles, and is available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-wear-and-make-a-cloth-face-covering.

Reusable cloth face coverings are also available to buy from a wide range of retail outlets, including online.

The Government has published guidance on the disposal of face coverings and other PPE during the coronavirus pandemic. This is available at:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-disposing-of-waste

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