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Greenpeace to gov’t: Support production of reusable PPEs to address shortage, waste issues

Personal Protective Equipment Pollution in New York

Dhaka, 12 August, 2020: Greenpeace Philippines today joined health experts in calling on the government to promote reusable personal protective equipment (PPE) for non-medical use and boost information dissemination on the safety of reusables to counter supply shortages while still protecting Filipinos from environmental and health harms of PPE-related waste.

Health experts from around the world, including Dr. Geminn Louis Apostol, professor and lead environmental health specialist of the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health at Ateneo de Manila University, also encouraged the public to practice basic hygiene practices like handwashing and utilize reusable masks, while leaving medical-grade PPEs for healthcare and essential workers.[1]

“While ensuring adequate access to PPE is paramount, the pandemic has exposed how both the medical and nonmedical community have an unnecessary and dangerous reliance on disposable, single-use materials. Widespread use of single-use PPE has resulted in enormous quantities entering waste management streams, contaminating both public spaces and natural environments and creating additional threats to public health and safety [2],” Apostol said

He added: “Inequitable access to PPE and to information about how to stay safe has contributed to the disproportionate rates of infection in poor and minority communities. If medical masks are prioritized for healthcare workers, the general public can use cloth masks as a safe, cost-effective alternative.”

According to a study in Environmental Science & Technology [3], the world is using an estimated 129 billion disposable masks and 65 billion disposable gloves each month during the pandemic. The study finds that not only has this led to widespread environmental contamination, it poses a significant public health risk as this waste serves as a vector for the virus.

Manila alone is poised to produce an additional 280 metric tons of infectious waste a day, equating to 16,800 tons in 60 days [4]. Greenpeace believes that a bulk of this can be avoided with reusable PPEs.

Greenpeace Campaigner Marian Ledesma called on the government to take decisive steps to create a better normal with real solutions that do not pose a threat to Filipinos and the environment.

“Coming after President Duterte’s SONA, where he expressed his wish to see concerted efforts in protecting the environment for the rest of his term, it is imperative that the government act to curb the rise of PPE-related waste. Protecting the environment, public health and the Filipinos’ well being, including ensuring public participation in decision-making, should be cornerstones of our recovery plans,” Ledesma said.

Greenpeace also urges the government to publicly disseminate scientific guidance which can protect communities to ensure that people, especially in densely populated urban areas, are well-versed on hygienic practices, good sanitation and environmentally-friendly alternatives.

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Posted by on Aug 12 2020. Filed under News at Now, News Worldwide, No Plastic, No Toxic. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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