Auckland Mayor Phil Goff is reminding Aucklanders to put single-use face masks in the bin, following reports by maintenance and litter collection staff that there has been an increase in masks being littered around the city.
Mayor Goff said anecdotal reports from teams on the ground was that there has been a noticeable increase in masks being collected from parks, reserves and on the street in the last few weeks.
“It is great that so many Aucklanders are following health advice by wearing a mask, but we also need to remember to throw disposable masks in the bin,” he said.
“We all know the importance of being a tidy Kiwi and this is no different. Used masks being thrown on the street is not only a health risk but is also terrible for our environment.
“Most masks are made from materials that do not easily degrade and this means they can harm wildlife. They can also leach microplastics and other chemicals into our waterways.
"Most Aucklanders treasure their neighbourhoods, parks and beaches and don’t intentionally litter. Masks are light and people might not notice if one slips out of a bag or car door. We are asking Aucklanders to make sure they are keeping track of their masks and making sure they put them in the bin when they are finished using them.
“Where possible, please use your bin at home as this reduces risks to staff who collect the public bins.
“The small minority of people who do choose to litter risk fines of up to $400. I encourage Aucklanders to report littering if they see it by calling 0800 NO DUMP.”
The mayor also encouraged Aucklanders to try to use reusable masks where possible.
“Where possible it’s great if people can make or purchase washable fabric masks to reduce waste.
“But most importantly, my message to Aucklanders is to keep up the good work by continuing to wear masks. It’s a comparatively low-cost, high-reward behaviour that we can easily adopt to help keep ourselves, our families and the community safe.”
Environment and Climate Change Committee Chair Councillor Richard Hills said, “Please take care when disposing of masks so that you don’t create waste that could be harmful to our natural environment.”