The Covid-19 pandemic has given rise to a new source of pollution across the globe: discarded protective face masks and surgical gloves on pavements, roads and in the natural environment, causing a significant threat to both the environment and public health. Discarded PPE is a particular concern for marine pollution, where 80% of the waste found originates from the land.
To address the issue, a national campaign was launched across France in June 2020 by Gestes Propres to persuade all citizens to dispose responsibly of their single-use masks and gloves. The campaign was supported by Plastics Europe, which had become an official member of Gestes Propres in January 2020.
The awareness-raising campaign was delivered via 23,000 billboards across France, in railway stations, on the Metro, on buses and on public roads, and via social media. A second wave of advertising was launched in November 2020 by the Minister of Ecology, Barbara Pompili.
While the social impact of the campaign is difficult to measure, it is estimated that the billboards were seen 1.2 billion times. Social media posts across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook were seen more than 3.5 million times and received more than 15k interactions. As a result, public awareness of the issue has improved considerably, and the Gestes Propres campaign has enjoyed greater visibility.
“Disposable masks have no place in the street or in the natural environment! Every week, we use 50 million of them in France. Let’s be responsible and throw them in the bin.”Barbara Pompili – the Minister of Ecology, commenting on the campaign
“The objective of the campaign is to break down the wall of indifference when it comes to discarding masks.”Jean-François Molle – President of Gestes Propres