SWANA Urges Americans to Dispose of Gloves and Masks Properly


Substantial increase in litter of gloves and masks due to COVID-19

Silver Spring, MD – A substantial increase in improperly discarded gloves and masks causes concern for the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA). As the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) grows to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the amount of litter and trash has increased. SWANA urges Americans to dispose of these materials properly and recycle right during this pandemic, stating it is even more crucial now than ever before.

“No one should be leaving used plastic gloves or masks on the ground in a parking lot or tossing them into the bushes,” said David Biderman, SWANA Executive Director & CEO. “Discarded contaminated PPE on the ground increases the risk of exposure to COVID-19 and has negative impacts on the environment.”

Increased litter due to improperly discarded gloves and masks has been noted by a growing number of media outlets, including the Chicago TribuneNew York Daily News, and the Boston Globe.

SWANA reminds the public to use fresh PPE to avoid cross contamination. When you are no longer using your PPE, be sure to find a trash can to dispose them. Everyone can do their part to slow the spread of the coronavirus by practicing sanitary behavior, properly discarding all masks, gloves, and wipes, and following social distancing orders.

Learn more about the coronavirus, its impact on the waste industry, and additional guidance by visiting SWANA’s website


The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) is an organization of more than 10,000 public and private sector professionals committed to advancing from solid waste management to resource management through their shared emphasis on education, advocacy and research. For more than 60 years, SWANA has been the leading association in the solid waste management field. SWANA serves industry professionals through technical conferences, certifications, publications and a large offering of technical training courses.

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