TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Mandatory mask-use during the pandemic has created a new waste problem that is polluting the environment. In Papua, a researcher from the Papua Archaeological Center, Hari Suroto, said that mask wastes are polluting areas including tourist destinations.
Most of the wastes are disposable medical masks. In Berau Bay, Fakfak Regency, West Papua, medical mask waste is contaminating the waters.
"People just throw away their medical masks in the waters," Hari Suroto told Tempo on Monday, September 13.
According to Hari, a lecturer in archeology at Cenderawasih University, Papua, mask waste is difficult to decompose. They are damaging the aquatic ecosystem of Berau Bay.
A similar scene can be seen at Lake Sentani in Jayapura Regency, the largest lake and one of the popular tourist destinations in Papua. Not all of the docks at Lake Sentani are equipped with trash bins and campaign boards to keep the environment beautiful.
"Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the charm of Lake Sentani has been tainted by masks waste," Heri said.