Coronavirus: Used face masks, gloves litter Winnipeg store parking lots

A face mask found on the ground outside of a Winnipeg grocery store. Abigail Turner / Global News

The annual spring thaw in Winnipeg reveals trash hidden under the snow, but a new type of trash is surfacing amid this year’s thaw: disposable gloves and face masks.

Manitoba cleanup and recycling organizations are urging residents to properly dispose of the face masks and single-use gloves that some have begun to use while shopping amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In Winnipeg, these items can be seen in several grocery store parking lots throughout the city.

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At one store in Winnipeg, the manager told Tom Ethans of Take Pride Winnipeg they had added new trash cans to encourage people to throw away their gloves and masks properly.

“You can’t be throwing your stuff out of your car windows, you can’t be dropping it on the ground,” he said.

Representatives from Food Fare confirm they have seen a rise in litter from shoppers as well, adding that the company is cleaning up disposed gloves and masks at its locations daily.

READ MORE: Canada to ensure coronavirus masks from China are safe amid reports of defects — Trudeau

The strain this litter can put on the environment has Manitoba’s Green Action Centre sounding the alarm.

The group is asking residents to properly dispose of protective wear.

“We see much of the city’s litter surface with the spring snowmelt. Let’s do our part to protect our environment by continuing to recycle and properly dispose of items, including protective wear, such as masks and gloves,” Manitoba’s Green Action Centre told Global News.

READ MORE: Will homemade masks protect us from the coronavirus?

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As for the best way to dispose of face masks and gloves, Simply Recycle Manitoba says people should not put them in the blue bin.

The province’s recycling resource organization says the items aren’t accepted in Manitoba’s residential recycling program.

“These are not accepted at any time, but now more than ever, to ensure the safety of our communities and our collection and sorting staff,” Simply Recycle Manitoba said.

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