Covid face masks: Policy shift results in increased littering

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
23 Downloads (Pure)


The introduction of the mandatory use of fitted face masks in indoor spaces to limit the transmission of COVID-19 resulted in increased municipal waste of discarded single-use surgical face masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) such as latex gloves. In parallel, the occurrence of intentionally or accidentally discarded masks has created a major environmental problem. This paper presents the data of a longitudinal study of the occurrence of discarded face masks in an urban environment of a community in regional Australia. It demonstrates that the shift from voluntary to mandatory use of fitted face masks resulted in an immediate increase of publicly discarded masks and other items of PPE. The overserved spatial and temporal patterns allow us to draw inferences on human behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9875
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


Dive into the research topics of 'Covid face masks: Policy shift results in increased littering'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this