Watch what you’re doing!

Watch what you are doing with your discarded facemasks! That’s the plea that has gone out urging people not to dump their used masks or gloves as litter in parks, open spaces and streets in Bath and North East Somerset.

As part of the council’s anti-littering campaign ‘Don’t be a tosser’ a reminder is going out about properly disposing of unwanted face coverings, gloves or personal protective equipment.

Councillor David Wood, cabinet member for Climate Emergency and Neighbourhood Services, said: “This is a plea to people to safely dispose of their used and unwanted facemasks or gloves. Our cleansing teams shouldn’t have to pick these up and put themselves at risk. You can’t recycle them either so please make sure they are properly disposed of in your general waste bin.

“We had a hugely positive response to the launch of our ‘Don’t be a tosser’ campaign and I’d like to thank everyone who has supported us. Littering has a huge impact on our environment, wildlife and makes life unpleasant for everyone who wants to enjoy our beautiful open spaces.”

Anyone who is caught littering can be issued with a £150 fixed penalty notice from the council’s in-house enforcement team.

Current government advice when removing a face covering is:

  • wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before removing
  • only handle the straps, ties or clips
  • do not give it to someone else to use
  • if single-use, dispose of it carefully in a residual waste bin and do not recycle
  • if reusable, wash it in line with manufacturer’s instructions at the highest temperature appropriate for the fabric
  • wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser once removed

Face coverings are not classified as PPE (personal protective equipment) which is used in a limited number of settings to protect wearers against hazards and risks, such as surgical masks or respirators used in medical and industrial settings.

They are instead largely intended to protect others, not the wearer, against the spread of infection because they cover the nose and mouth, which are the main confirmed sources of transmission of virus that causes coronavirus infection.

More information about how the council handles littering and enforcement can be found here https://www.bathnes.gov.uk/services/streets-and-highway-maintenance/litter-street-care-and-cleaning