Plastic pollution problem

A protective mask and other discarded medical equipment are seen inside an infectious waste bin at a Hospital in Bangkok.

04-06-2020DIEGO AZUBEL

Spaniards are concerned about a new problem resulting from the coronavirus epidemic - how to safely get rid of vast amounts of disposable masks, gloves and other sanitary equipment.

A special prosecutor for environmental issues said on Friday that as the use of such items has soared, so had public concern about the mismanagement of contaminated waste.

"We've seen a higher number of complaints regarding irregular processing of medical, hospital, and other kinds of waste related to the pandemic," environmental prosecutor Antonio Vercher said in a statement marking World Environment Day.

The government made wearing masks compulsory in public spaces for anyone aged six or over on May 20. Local media have reported discarded masks washing up on Spanish beaches.

Vercher did not provide any numbers, saying that clear data on the matter would not be available until after Spain lifted its state of emergency on June 21.

Due to its potentially infectious nature, the question of how - and whether - to recycle such waste during coronavirus remains an issue around the world and has disrupted recycling systems in several countries.

Spain has suffered one of Europe's worst coronavirus outbreaks, with 27,134 deaths and nearly 241,000 confirmed cases so far.

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