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New EPA app supporting face mask clean up

New VIC EPA app supporting face mask clean up

Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria has developed a scientific program which aims to reduce the amount of face masks discarded incorrectly throughout the state.

The ‘Mask-Away App’ is a pilot initiative, to help quantify the scale of the problem associated with inappropriate disposal of COVID masks.

Data is collected on a mapping platform to direct efforts and resources to places where clean-up is most needed. The program is an extension of EPA’s pollution hotline where members of the public can already report all types of pollution, including littering.

EPA will share data collected from the survey on the EPA website. The data will be used to inform local councils of areas where there is a build-up in litter, allowing for improved programs to tackle the problem.

Face masks are harmful to the environment and wildlife, due to the materials inability to decay quickly. Many used masks can be found in streets, storm drains, water ways and beaches throughout Victoria.

EPA’s Chief Environmental Scientist Professor Mark Patrick Taylor said the incorrect disposal of face masks is now a real issue.

“Discarded face masks have gone from a largely unknown litter item to being left behind everywhere,” he said.

“In the meantime, doing the right thing with your own used mask is easy – protect wildlife by pulling the loops off and putting it in a general waste bin.”

To access the app, click here.


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