A NATIONAL recycling company has claimed that 20,000 tonnes of single-use face masks will end up in landfill by March, and is calling for people to change their PPE habits.

Disposable face masks are typically made from heated and pressed plastics, so they cannot easily be recycled and are most likely to end up at the dump.

A total of 53 million non-recyclable face masks are sent to landfill every day - 742 million per week, or 1.6 billion per month.

One year would equate to 19.2 billion, weighing as much as five-and-a-half Eiffel Towers.

Charlotte Green, from TradeWaste.co.uk, said: "The UK will throw 6.3 billion face masks in the bin in just four months [through to March 2021].

"If the rules on mask-wearing continue throughout 2021, this could top 19.2 billion - the numbers are absolutely mind-blowing."

Green added: “When you put your face mask in the bin, it will most likely end up in landfill.

"However, it gets even worse if the face mask is either deliberately or accidentally dropped - they are blown around and end up in watercourses, rivers and eventually the ocean.

"This impact can have awful consequences if wildlife comes entangled in the fibres or ear loops."

There are alternatives to using disposable face masks, however.

You can buy a reusable face mask made from either recycled materials or washable cotton, or use a paper facemask that can be recycled - these are becoming more widely available.

Alternatively, use a recycling service which accepts disposable face masks made from plastic, such as dust masks, FFP2 (or so-called N95), FFP3 and surgical masks.