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Reusable face coverings recommended for coronavirus protection

Scots are being urged to choose from a variety of reusable face coverings as the preferred method for covering the mouth and nose and protecting communities from coronavirus.

31 Aug 20

In Scotland it is mandatory to wear face coverings in certain indoor public places, shops, on public transport, and bus and train stations. The widespread use of these, particularly with many people opting for disposable single-use options, has led to a recent spike in associated litter.

To keep our streets and parks clean, cut waste and maintain public health, the Scottish Government and Zero Waste Scotland are highlighting reusable coverings as the preferred method of keeping people safe. Evidence suggests face coverings have particular value in crowded and less well-ventilated spaces, and where physical distancing of two metres is not possible.

Shop-bought and homemade face coverings, as well as other items such as snoods, can all be effectively used to slow the spread of the virus. These should be at least two layers thick and preferably three. 

It is recommended that reusable face coverings are washed on the highest setting suitable for the fabric, preferably 60 degrees centigrade, after every use. Face coverings should only be hand washed if a washing machine is unavailable. For hand washing, lather face coverings for at least 20 seconds using warm to hot water before drying ideally putting in a dryer. Iron face coverings on the cotton or linen setting to kill any remaining germs.

Iain Gulland, chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland, said: “At a time when we are trying to protect our health, we can also protect the environment. Littered face coverings are a needless recent blight on our streets and it’s a criminal offence to drop them.

“The Scottish Government advises that single-use and reusable coverings provide people with suitable protection. Having a face covering that can be used time and again uses fewer materials and is less likely to be discarded so easily.”

It is recommended that coverings be made of cloth or other textiles through which people can breathe and should be two, and preferably three, layers thick.

Disposable face coverings are different to masks worn by healthcare professionals. All disposable single-use face coverings and gloves cannot be recycled and should be placed in the general waste bin after use.

Full guidance on the use of face coverings by the public is contained in the Scottish Government’s Phase 3 Staying Safe and Protecting Others guidance.

More details on how reusable face coverings cut down waste and protect you and your community here.

Details on how to make a reusable face covering can be found on the Scottish Government’s YouTube channel.



Notes For Editors

About Zero Waste Scotland

Zero Waste Scotland exists to lead Scotland to use products and resources responsibly, focusing on where we can have the greatest impact on climate change. 

Using evidence and insight, our goal is to inform policy, and motivate individuals and businesses to embrace the environmental, economic, and social benefits of a circular economy. 

We are a not-for-profit environmental organisation, funded by the Scottish Government and European Regional Development Fund.

More information on all Zero Waste Scotland’s programmes can be found at https://www.zerowastescotland.org.uk/. You can also keep up to date with the latest from Zero Waste Scotland via our social media channels - Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

The Scottish Government is the Managing Authority for the European Structural Funds 2014-20 Programme. For further information visit our website or follow @scotgovESIF.

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