Residents in Sydney's west have been warned to dispose of masks properly or face a fine of $450.

Blacktown City Council alerted residents to the fines on social media due to the growing number of disposable masks and other PPE items being discarded on local streets.

Masks are mandatory in Sydney on public transport and in all shops, cinemas, theatres, places of worship, hair and beauty businesses and aged care facilities.

Those who don't comply face a $200 on-the-spot fine.

Masks are among the wave of waste ending up in landfill and waterways during the pandemic. Picture: John Grainger
Masks are among the wave of waste ending up in landfill and waterways during the pandemic. Picture: John Grainger

In a post on Facebook, Blacktown Council stated: "Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic we are seeing face masks littered on footpaths, in car parks and even in shopping trolleys.

"Littering these items can put other community members at risk of contracting COVID-19. Littering is illegal and a $450 aggravated littering fine will be issued to anyone caught littering a face mask."

About 90 million single-use masks are in global circulation every day due to the coronavirus crisis, according to the World Health Organisation, with worldwide sales of disposable masks rocketing from $800 million in 2019 to $166 billion in 2020.

 

Environmentalists are increasingly alarmed at the amount of PPE pollution generated by the pandemic, with the UN Environmental Program warning 75 per cent of masks will end up in landfill or floating in the sea.

"Plastic pollution was already one of the greatest threats to our planet before the coronavirus outbreak," UN Conference on Trade and Development's director Pamela Coke-Hamilton said.

"The sudden boom in the daily use of certain products to keep people safe and stop the disease is making things much worse."

Dr Jeremy McAnulty removing his mask at a press conference in Sydney. Picture: James Gourley
Dr Jeremy McAnulty removing his mask at a press conference in Sydney. Picture: James Gourley

In the last week, three people have been fined by NSW Police for not wearing face masks in public places.

A 43-year-old man was fined after not wearing a mask on a train and two other men were also fined for not wearing masks while at a western Sydney shopping centre.

Originally published as Bin it or pay: Mask litterers to cop $450 fine


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