Stop dumping used personal protective equipment - that is the clear message to people in Stevenage, where littering of this potentially hazardous waste is on the rise.

With people in England now required by law to wear face coverings in most indoor places due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Stevenage Borough Council says used disposable PPE litter - which could be contaminated with COVID-19 - is on the increase. This is not only causing an eyesore and an environmental issue, but also a risk to public health.

A council spokesman said: “We’re seeing an increase in masks and other PPE being littered around Stevenage. This is dangerous for people and animals, unsightly, and clearing it diverts time and money away from other services. There is no excuse for littering. If the bins are full, take your rubbish home with you.”

One resident said: “It makes me so angry. It’s just lazy and uncaring. I hate to think of the rubbish because of this virus. Medical staff need to use the disposable PPE but most others could use washable masks.”

Disposable PPE is intended for single use in order to avoid cross contamination in settings such as hospitals, but movements including the #breakfreefromplastic PPE Campaign - created by members of the European Plastics and Health Task Force - are encouraging the general public to wear reusable masks to protect the planet.

Environmentally-conscious Cleanne Blackmore, who lives in Stevenage, says she wears gloves to pick up discarded PPE if she sees it, binning 15 face masks on her walk home from the town centre on Friday.

The council spokesman added: “We all have a role to play in keeping Stevenage clean and reducing the spread of coronavirus. If residents have any PPE gloves and masks to dispose of, these should be placed in a separate bag and put in a waste bin. If anyone has symptoms of coronavirus, the PPE should be set aside for 72 hours then put in their general waste bin.”

Environmental enforcement officers can issue a fixed penalty notice of £75 to those caught littering. A fine of up to £2,500 can be issued by a court on conviction of a littering offence.

To report a Stevenage litter bin problem, visit