TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Speaker of the Regional Representatives Council (DPD), AA La Nyalla Mahmud Mattalitti, has asked the government to encourage innovations for the production of eco-friendly face masks, observing that face mask waste requires good handling.
"Face mask waste needs good handling. Due to their increasing use (amid the pandemic), face masks will eventually pollute the environment. I think the government needs to encourage innovation in environmentally-friendly mask technology," Mattalitti said in an official statement received here on Wednesday.
According to Mattalitti, the COVID-19 pandemic has not only had an impact on the health and economic sectors but also made a massive contribution to environmental pollution, especially in terms of medical waste.
Citing a report from OceanAsian, he said around 1.6 billion face masks ended up as waste in the ocean in 2020. Such waste can endanger the lives of animals in the sea, he pointed out.
"It happened because of the masks that are thrown away without undergoing (waste) processing. Of course, this can damage the environment in the long run," he said.
The government needs to provide special trash cans, collection sites, and landfill sites for disposable masks, Mattalitti said. Other than that, the public is also urged to use reusable masks, he added.
He then lauded students from Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember (ITS), who have designed the Zero Mask Waste Box to reduce mask waste. The innovative waste bin processes disposable face mask waste to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, he noted.
The DPD speaker also urged the government to intensify disseminating the guidelines for processing face masks waste. That way, the public can correctly dispose of waste masks, he added.