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PPE found dumped across the Cornish countryside

PPE found dumped across the Cornish countryside

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 6:40am 11th May 2020. (Updated at 8:53am 11th May 2020)

Face masks, sterilising wipes and disposable gloves have been found dumped in the Cornish countryside amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Cornwall Wildlife Trust says the lockdown has led to a spike in littering.

Used personal protective equipment (PPE) has been found left on roadsides, beaches and near supermarket car parks.

Environmental campaigners are urging people to be responsible with their waste as it causes a hazard to wildlife.

The Cornish Plastic Pollution Coalition (CPPC) says the Covid-19 lockdown has resulted in some widely-reported environmental benefits, with air pollution levels dropping and wild animals venturing into towns and city centres.

But one particularly visible and growing problem is the dumping of PPE, which many people are now using when they go out shopping for food or to visit vulnerable relatives.

PPE littering

Many members of the CPPC, a grouping of more than 50 conservation and beach cleaning groups, have reported large amounts of discarded supplies appearing along roadside verges and near supermarket car parks all over Cornwall.

“Often PPE has been dumped really near to bins. It maybe that people are scared of using the bins because of possible germ transmission. While it’s completely understandable that people are concerned about protecting themselves and their loved ones, we’d like to urge everyone to take proper responsibility for their waste and to please take it home and dispose of it properly rather than littering our streets and countryside.

“Littered PPE not only looks unsightly. If left lying around it poses a risk to the street cleaners who will have to clear it up, not to mention the fact that it could kill or maim wildlife too.”

CPPC coordinator, Delia Webb

The CPPC also reports that the coronavirus lockdown is having some other impacts around waste and wildlife.

With household waste and recycling centres shut down at the moment, there have been anecdotal reports of an increase in fly tipping.

PPE littering

“One of the silver linings in this challenging and often traumatic time been the chance to slow down and have more time to appreciate nature. There have been some definite advantages for the natural world – for example the reduced numbers of people around the coast has led to cleaner beaches and less disturbance for resting seals and nesting seabirds. 

“However, it’s also having some less positive knock-on effects. Beach cleaning, practical conservation work and wildlife monitoring is impossible right now, so we’d urge people to please do all they can to protect the wonderful Cornish environment and wildlife that we all love so much. Be responsible for your rubbish and please, for our wildlife’s sake, dispose of it responsibly.”

CPPC coordinator, Delia Webb

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