Concerns over rise in 'coronavirus litter', with masks, gloves and wipes dumped

Credit: PA

Concerns have been raised over a 'significant increase' in litter in Wales amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Leading environmental groups have reported a particular rise in discarded PPE - personal protective equipment - including single-use masks and gloves.

Keep Wales Tidy said these items not only harm our environment, as many are made from or include plastic, but also pose a health and safety concern due to risk of contamination.

ITV News has been out and about with volunteer litter picker Dave King MBE, of Keep Grangetown Tidy.

Dave said: "Since lockdown began, litter pickers here in Grangetown have collected 200 bags of rubbish.

"As with so much of the litter, PPE is not biodegradable. It's made from plastic. It's there to protect people from infection, and if it's just dumped it is infectious waste - controlled waste - that shouldn't be there."

Single-use PPE cannot be recycled and should always be placed in a rubbish bin after use - never dumped outdoors.

The reminder is timely, as the Welsh Government is now advising people to wear 'three-layer' face coverings in situations where social distancing is not possible.

Wet wipes can be harmful to our homes, sewers and oceans if flushed away. Credit: Welsh Water

With people trying to reduce the risk of contracting coronavirus, environmental groups have also seen a rise in discarded objects like wet wipes and antibacterial products.

Although convenient and good for hygiene, experts warn they are hazardous for the environment if not correctly disposed of.

Antibacterial gel or spray containers should be washed out thoroughly and recycled where possible, and wipes of any kind should always be binned after use.

People should also never flush wipes down the toilet after use, as doing so is harmful for our oceans, and also our homes and sewers.

Recently, a huge mass of wet wipes stuck in a sewer took Welsh Water workers hours to unblock and nearly caused a flood.

There has also been a rise in discarded food and drink packaging. Credit: PA

In addition, the recent hot weather and relaxed lockdown rules have meant an increase in discarded food and drink packaging, particularly single-use plastics.

Many local authorities have also reported an increase in fly-tipping during the pandemic, as people carry out home and garden improvements.

The Welsh Government has stressed that fly-tipping is never justified, adding that all waste should be stored safely or disposed of legally.

Many recycling centres have now reopened for people to dispose of their household waste responsibly.

How should I dispose of my waste during the pandemic?

  • Single-use personal protective equipment (PPE) is not recycled. This includes disposable face masks, gloves and aprons. The advice is to put it in your rubbish bin.

  • Personal waste, such as tissues and wipes, cannot be recycled and should be put in the bin.

  • If you or someone you live with has had symptoms of Covid-19, double-bag the items and leave them for at least 72 hours before collection.

  • Food and drink packaging, including plastic and glass bottles, are now largely recycled and should be put in your kerbside recycling box or bag.

  • Disinfect your recycling bags, boxes and caddy handles before and after use.

  • Larger household waste that cannot be collected kerbside should be taken to a local household waste recycling centre, with appropriate guidelines followed.

Watch Richard Morgan'sreport on PPE litter: