Face masks being disposed of indiscriminately

IPOH: For a city that is targeting to be the cleanest in Malaysia come 2023, Ipoh is now having to contend with discarded used face masks besides having to pick up other litter.

It is estimated that between 30 and 40 face masks are collected daily from household rubbish in the city, said state exco member Datuk Nolee Ashilin Mohd Radzi (pic).

Nolee, who is the housing, local government, public transport and tourism committee chairman, estimated that there could be up to 80 discarded used face masks collected daily by workers of the various local councils in the state.

“In public places, the used masks are usually thrown into provided bins. But there are also cases where cleaners have found used face masks discarded into drains, roads and recreational areas, ” she said. For example, the Manjung Municipal Council reported that their workers had found used face masks thrown on five-foot ways, roads in residential areas, bus stations and even along the Teluk Batik beachfront.

Over in Kerian, Nolee said used face masks were sometimes found inside flower pots by the road and drains, but the numbers were still low. She pointed out that those caught indiscriminately throwing rubbish could have legal action taken against them.

Non-governmental group Ipoh City Watch president Prof Dr Richard Ng said with the mandatory ruling on face masks, some 10 million masks were being worn daily.

In Ipoh itself, it is believed that some 300,000 pieces of face masks – about half of its 700,000 urban population – are being worn daily.

“Indiscriminate discarding of the masks has the potential of Covid-19 virus being transmitted to passers-by or garbage collectors, ” he said.The proper way to discard face masks is in a special bin – as practised by most hospitals.

“I am hoping that the public will play their part by putting their used face masks in proper wrappers and discarding these into a covered bin in their homes, ” he added.

In JOHOR BARU, Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing Corporation Sdn Bhd (SWCorp) Johor director Cairul Hisham Jalaluddin said so far, no one had been arrested for dumping used face masks at the sanitary landfill sites in the state.

Cairul said feedback from contractors involved in waste collection showed that most households

complied with the standard operating procedure when disposing their used face masks.

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