미래가치를 창출하는 글로컬 산학일체 혁신대학
Wise Mask Etiquette
By Park Hyeon-su Chief Editor, Senior of English Language and Literature
As COVID-19 is spreading throughout the world, wearing a mask is becoming a more natural etiquette. The mask has become an indispensable necessity in our daily lives to protect our health. However, masks have a one-time use, so the amount of mask waste is also enormous. These discarded masks are so light that they fly off easily during the garbage disposal process. Unfortunately, abandoned masks have been found trapped around parts of the bodies of helpless wildlife, causing many animals, such as young seagulls, to suffer. It is very important to wear masks to fight this disease. But, how can we dispose of our masks wisely?
1. All types of masks, regardless of material are discarded as general waste.
According to the Environment Ministry’s recycling separation and discharge guide, masks are registered as general waste. All kinds of masks, regardless of material, such as vinyl-coated paper, nonwoven fabric and cotton, are treated as general waste. Therefore, they must be placed in a pay-as-you-go bag to be incinerated. Because used masks are contaminated, you must wash your hands and disinfect for hygiene after discarding the mask.
2. Fold the contaminated surface out of reach, tie it with a string, and discard it.
Because the surface of the mask is exposed to the outside, it is contaminated with various viruses and dust. Therefore, be careful not to touch the surface when removing the mask. To discard the mask, first, grab the edge and fold it twice so that the outer surface goes inside. Second, roll it so that it doesn’t spread out and tie it with a string. Third, spray sterilizers or seal them in plastic bags, etc. Afterwards, you can put it deep in a standard plastic bag to prevent it from leaking out during collection. Also, you must disinfect your hands after you throw away the mask. This is because hands may have been contaminated during the process of taking off the mask and folding it.
3. Disinfect, seal and collect them in a waste bag at the public health center.
If used by a person with a confirmed diagnosis or one who is in self-quarantine, their masks, gloves, and disinfectants are all classified and treated as medical waste. Therefore, this waste should be sterilized and placed in a dedicated envelope-type kit provided by a competent health center and kept completely sealed. The envelope is later collected or disposed of separately by visiting an isolation site at the health center.
4. Crop Mask String Campaign
The Korea Environment Corporation said that it is a good idea to tie up the mask strap instead of rolling it around. However, the material of the mask is light and the strap is loosened easily. The loose mask has a large area for its weight, so it flies well. Recently, the issue of wildlife suffering from masks has spread around the world. This is because a mask was seen tied to an animal’s leg after flying over a garbage dump. As a result, many animal rights groups and celebrities have launched campaigns and challenges to cut mask straps on social networking sites. The British Royal Society of Animals (RSPA) pointed out on Twitter that abandoned mask ear straps are causing animals to suffer because they cannot untie human waste trapped on their bodies. Kwon Joon-soo, a professor at Seoul National University Hospital, recently said on his personal SNS that, “there are cases in which animals are tied up after trying to find food in garbage cans. I thought I should cut off the strap of my mask and throw it away. Let’s cut the string with scissors and throw it away.” As this fact became known, the mask strap-cutting campaign quickly spread.
The act of throwing away contaminated masks on the streets for fear of taking them home can cause environmental pollution as well as the spread of COVID-19. Therefore, let’s make sure to practice wise mask habits for a healthy daily life.