New FAQ children asked for: Face masks and the environment


While the Commissioner was talking to children from St Andrew’s Fox Covert RC Primary School last week, they told him they were worried about the effect disposable face masks were having on the environment, and that a lot of people were throwing theirs on the ground.

So we’ve written this short FAQ for adults that highlights their concerns:

A:
Facemasks beside a question mark with a stylised image of a virus forming the dot.

Children have told us they’re worried that people aren’t getting rid of facemasks properly, and that people are forgetting about the environment because we’re so busy with Covid-19.

They’ve been unhappy to see so many disposable masks on the ground as litter. And they think people should use reusable face masks where they can, or other types of reusable face coverings.

Disposable masks can often only be used once. They’ve been in the news due to the amount of plastic waste they’ve generated.

Taking children seriously

Children often tell us they’re concerned about the environment, and that it’s not something adults think about enough. As Article 12 of the UNCRC says, this is an opinion which we should listen to and take seriously.

So we’ve agreed to highlight that this is something that matters a lot to them.

What does the Scottish Government say about getting rid of face masks?

The Scottish Government has advice on its website explaining:

  • how to take proper care of reusable face masks, and
  • how to get rid of face masks which can’t be used again.

As it says, disposable face coverings and gloves can’t be recycled, so will be more damaging to the environment than reusable alternatives. But if you do use them, you should still make sure to put them in a bin.

Contact us

We always want to hear from children and young people about the issues that matter to you and which you want us to highlight.

Find out how you can get in touch with us.


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