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Face masks are adding to the litter burden across Argyll and Bute, a meeting has heard.
And discarded rubber gloves left in the streets are also making a mess of Oban, with half-a-dozen found across a small area – along with a random pair of socks (see below).
Council Jim Lynch, who represents Oban South and the Isles for the SNP, told councillors he had spotted face masks hanging from trees.
The debate took place during a virtual meeting of the council’s environment, development and infrastructure committee.
Islay-based councillor Alastair Redman said constituents had complained about them ending up in roadsides.
Councillor Redman said: ‘I have had a number of complaints from constituents about discarded medical waste, including used face masks. During the pandemic, this is a concern.’
Council amenity services manager Jim Smith said the authority was aware of the problem.
‘Teams are picking up masks and a limited number of people are being irresponsible with where they dispose of them,’ he said.
‘We are seeing them in town centres and up glen roads and it is unacceptable. If they are actually seen doing it they can be issued with fixed penalty notices.’
Councillor Lynch urged the council to keep an eye out and that he had seen them end up trees. He said: ‘I initially thought that they had fallen out of people’s pockets but when I walk my dog I see more than I would expect to see.’
Speaking after the meeting, Maurice Wilkins of the Keep Oban Beautiful group said it added ‘another layer’ to the existing litter problem.
However, given the number of face masks in circulation, the actual number discarded was relatively low, he said. While some were dropped absent-mindedly, he believes some are just discarded in the street deliberately.
Mr Wilkins said typically he would find between four and five face masks an hour.
They need to be picked up with litter pickers due to the health implications.
‘It’s just another addition to the litter people drop all the time,’ said Mr Wilkins who has urged people to take litter home.
Argyll and Bute Council have said anybody found littering can be issued with a fine.
A cigarette packet and sweet wrapper with this glove.