No one gave any thought to this side effect of face masks – there was and is no plan for mask recycling:
Recent studies estimated an astounding 129 billion face masks being used globally every month (3 million / minute) and most are disposable face masks made from plastic microfibers (Prataet al., 2020). With increasing reports on inappropriate disposal of masks, it is urgent to recognize this potential environmental threat and prevent it from becoming the next plastic problem.
Front. Environ. Sci. Engr. 2021, 15(6): 125. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11783-021-1413-7
Public health never had plans for anything. Now we have an exponentially growing problem as a surge in disposable face masks fill up land fills, plus end up on the ground and flow into streams and oceans. A completely preventable environmental catastrophe.