Penang says 1 mil single-use face masks thrown away daily

Penang wants to encourage people to wear reusable masks so they do not add more rubbish to the landfills.

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government today said at least one million single-use face masks are being thrown away daily since the movement control order started.

State executive councillor Phee Boon Poh said while the masks were important to minimise the spread of the Covid-19 virus, they were not environmentally friendly.

“Ultimately, this translates to more rubbish at our landfills, which we need less of,” he said at the sidelines of an event at the St Nicholas’ Home here today.

Hence, he said, the state is embarking on a project to encourage the use of reusable masks, which met World Health Organization standards.

Phee said the Penang Green Council and the Butterworth Lay Buddhist Society had jointly produced 1,000 pieces of reusable face masks, which had been distributed to schools in the state. The masks came with 10 filters.

“We will provide the materials to the poor and jobless so they can produce the masks and sell them. Call it a cottage industry, if you will. If you make 30 masks a day and sell each at RM10, you make a decent living out of this,” he said.

Phee said the other concern was the disposal of plastic personal protective equipment (PPE), which he said could be replaced by cloth-based materials.

“From medical facilities to barbers, there are plenty of PPEs being dumped. Reusable aprons are the way to go,” he said.