Nearly 1.6 billion disposable masks polluted oceans in 2020, will take 450 years to decompose

Nearly 1.6 billion disposable face masks ended up in the earth's oceans in 2020, out of the roughly 52 billion produced in response to the pandemic, according to a new study.

While governments around the world continue to support mask mandates in public spaces, the impact of disposable masks is only just emerging.

The report, by the Hong Kong-based marine conservation group OceansAsia, title "Masks on the Beach," also estimated that roughly 5,500 tons of plastic pollution entered the ocean in 2020 from masks.

The figure is equal to 7% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a mass of plastic debris floating in the ocean that is twice the size of Texas.
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