LITTER picking groups want to urge the public not to litter disposable face masks after scores of them have been found on streets across the borough.

Since face coverings became mandatory in England in July, litter picking groups have noticed a sharp rise in the amount they have found discarded on the floor in public spaces and along highways.

Don Keating from the Wath, West Meton, and Brampton Litter Picking Group said it has become a 'massive problem' within the area.

“We spend our Saturday mornings litter picking and last week we must have picked up more than 20 masks from one small stretch of our route,” said Don. “We are seeing them outside shops, along nature paths and at the side of the road – they're everywhere.

“We want to advise people to put the mask in your pocket until you get home, or dispose of it in a bin, if everyone made a small change it would be helpful to a lot of litter picking groups across the borough.”

Carl Snowden from the Mapplewell Greenspace Group said the face masks are a biohazard and is worried about the safety of his volunteers.

“Obviously we don't know whether the person wearing the mask has Covid or not and we have to pick up the masks with long grabbers to try and avoid coming in to direct contact with them. I don't want to put my volunteers at risk of the virus.

“It's bad for the environment as well because the elastic on the mask can get caught around birds' necks or legs and can kill them.

“We would advise people buy reusable masks or to dispose of their single-use masks properly. In about half-an-hour last week we must have picked up around 40 face masks which is ridiculous.”