Failing to properly dispose of personal protective equipment (PPE) will hurt the environment and could spread COVID-19
National nonprofit Keep America Beautiful® issued an urgent call Tuesday for all Americans to properly dispose of cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE), including used sanitizing wipes, masks, and plastic gloves. These belong in the trash, not on the ground.
“We have been hearing from more and more people who are seeing wipes, gloves, and other related items on streets and walking trails, or being left behind near supermarkets and pharmacies,” said Keep America Beautiful President and CEO Helen Lowman.
“The basic rules for proper trash disposal are taking on greater importance, given the COVID-19 virus,” she said. “These materials are being used to protect us from possible contamination from COVID-19. If they are not disposed of properly, we are risking the spread of this life-threatening virus.”
If a store provides wipes to clean off a cart, it likely has a trash receptacle nearby. If consumers are carrying their own wipes or gloves, make sure to properly dispose of used gloves, wipes, and masks in a trash receptacle at the store or have a bag inside your vehicle to place the items in to dispose of at home.
“No one wants to spread the disease, so we must be careful to properly dispose of these materials,” Lowman said. She also discouraged people from picking up wipes or gloves they see littered, because they could be contaminated. “If you used the PPE, it’s your responsibility to dispose of it,” she added.
Keep America Beautiful sent an urgent alert to its more than 650 nationwide affiliates, asking them to spread the word among their millions of volunteers. “We will get through this, working together and looking out for one another,” she added.
Lowman also noted that recycling regulations may be shifting in communities due to CDC guidelines. Some communities have suspended recycling programs because of worker safety and other limitations. Keep America Beautiful recommends you check locally to understand what services are currently available in your community. If you or someone in your home has tested positive for the coronavirus, do not recycle your recyclables; place them in a bag that is securely closed and discard them in your trash container. This also applies to any used cleaning supplies, paper towels, tissues, or PPE generated within a home or business with someone who has tested positive.
Most cleaning supplies, however, can be recycled. For tips on recycling during this crisis, click here.