A stunning 1.5 billion – that's BILLION, with a “B” – plastic face masks are expected to be added to the pile of pollution clogging up our oceans this year.
Ironically, many of them are coming from states that moved to ban plastic straws and shopping bags due to ocean pollution.
According to OceansAsia, a conservative estimate projects that at least 3 percent of the 52 billion facemasks manufactured this year to meet demand during the COVID pandemic will end up in the world’s oceans, threatening marine life. That means at least 1.5 billion masks – totaling more than 6,800 tons of plastic – will land in the water.
Those masks, comprised of tiny plastic particles, will take nearly half a millennium to break down. In the meantime, marine life is in danger not only of getting tangled up in the masks’ ear loops, but also of ingesting the plastic. Animals have already begun to wash up on U.S. beaches strangled with face masks or with masks knotted in their throats and bellies.