Penalties for improper disposal of PPEs urged

A waste and pollution watchdog appealed to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Sunday to issue a directive to local government units (LGUs) to craft ordinances that will prohibit and penalize the improper disposal of used mask and other personal protective equipment (PPE).


The new directive should build on DILG Memorandum Circular No. 2020-071 issued last April 9 requiring mandatory use of face masks or other protective equipment in public areas to avoid further transmission of COVID-19, EcoWaste Coalition zero waste campaigner Jove Benosa said.

He noted that major cities have adopted corresponding ordinances but fell short of mobilizing the public to safely dispose of used masks and related discards.  

EcoWaste expressed alarm over the discovery of littered face masks in some cities in Metro Manila and in the Baseco Beach, Port Area, Manila and in the shoreline of Barangay Muzon, Rosario, Cavite.

"The careless disposal of used COVID-19 protective gears and products endangers public health and the environment and violates existing laws and regulations on ecological waste management," Benosa said.

He pointed out that enacting and enforcing local ordinances banning the arbitrary disposal of used masks and other PPE should deter citizens from simply throwing potentially infectious discards onto the streets, which may end up contaminating our oceans and the food supply chain with microplastic particles.

"Concerned LGUs should take their cue from the city councils of Davao and Manila cities that have started deliberations on proposed ordinances to counter the improper disposal of soiled masks and related items," he added.

According to EcoWaste, local ordinances should aim stop the unsafe disposal of used face masks and related protective gears and products; ensure the ecological management of COVID-19 waste and to promote waste workers’ health and safety; and promote health awareness and environmental responsibility among the citizens.

The group added that the ordinances should apply to the disposal of all types of face masks, face shields, hand gloves and other PPE, as well as disinfectant and hygiene products such as wipes, tissues, rubbing alcohol and hand sanitizers, in public places such as  streets, sidewalks, parks, canals, esteros, and other water bodies in line with the Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act and other laws.

The ordinances should further promote compliance to waste separation at source and the segregated disposal of healthcare wastes such as used masks and PPE, it said.