The number of discarded facemasks recovered from the shores of the Las Piñas-Parañaque Wetland Park (LPPWP) saw a marked increase this year, according to personnel from the South Field Office (SFO) of DENR National Capital Region.

Compared to last year, facemasks ending up on the beachfront of the LPPWP “more than doubled”. The increase, they claim, is one of the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the environment.

In light of this, Regional Executive Director Jacqueline A. Caancan reiterated the appeal of DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu on the proper disposal of used facemasks. “While protecting our people against COVID-19 is critical, the protection of our environment is just as important because the health of our environment is inextricably linked to our health”, Director Caancan explained. “Thus, we call on everyone to please dispose used facemasks properly as we don’t want to cause additional burden to our environment, to Manila Bay in particular”, she added.

Most of these disposable facemasks, Director Caancan warned, are made from a combination of plastic and cloth. Plastics, she said, “take years to break down and likewise pose a threat to aquatic animals due to entanglement and ingestion”. She said that apart from ensuring proper disposal of healthcare wastes, “we should also take time to segregate used facemasks and other PPEs from ordinary household wastes.”

“We should put used facemasks and other PPEs in a separate container and label them properly either as household medical waste, so our garbage collectors are properly warned of the contents”, she explained. “Our garbage collectors are among our front liners, and so we must take care of them as well”, Director Caancan emphasized.