WARNINGS to make sure people dispose of used Personal Protective Equipment properly have been issued by North Yorkshire County Council after concerns up to two thirds is being dumped straight into bins.

The authority is reminding people that disposable masks, gloves, wipes and tissues should be double bagged and left outside for three days before they are put into waste bins. They cannot be put into recycling bins because they are not recyclable.

They're also appealing to people who have anyone in the household who has coronavirus symptoms such as a raised temperature, new continuous cough or loss or change of sense of smell or taste to take extra precautions. Since the start of the pandemic many people have created their own personal PPE equipment to ensure vital supplies are not taken from the NHS.

The county council's waste team has made a YouTube video explaining what needs to be done. Jenny Lowe, waste team manager said: "PPE waste should be stored securely in disposable rubbish bags. These should be placed into another bag, tied securely and kept outside for at least 72 hours before being put in the general rubbish bin, outside your house."

County Councillor Andrew Lee, Executive Member for Waste Management, said: "More of us are using PPE, such as face coverings and disposable gloves, and for everyone’s protection we want to encourage residents of North Yorkshire to dispose of this properly after use. These items cannot be recycled and it’s important to put them into the general waste bins where they will be disposed of safely."

The warnings come after a survey revealed up to two thirds of households and businesses could be throwing tissues, gloves, face masks and other items that are potentially contaminated in general waste bins.

The concern is they are not taking the necessary precautions to ensure they do not cause harm to anyone else. They're particularly worried about the safety of refuse collectors. Bagging it and keeping it for three days guarantees the waste will not be a risk to anyone else.

Mark Hall, of the clinical waste company BusinessWaste.co.uk said:."People are wearing gloves and masks as they venture outside or to their local shops, which is a great way to reduce the risk of contamination, but the knock-on effect is if more PPE is being used, then there is more that needs to be disposed of safely.

"Putting potentially contaminated PPE in the bin could expose waste collectors to the virus, so if people are using PPE they need to make sure it is thrown away correctly as it is contaminated waste."

The company did a survey of more than 1,500 businesses and households and found four out of five have been throwing used protective gear into general waste.

"Unfortunately, the Government has not been strict enough with dealing with waste PPE when it should be classed as hazardous waste," he added.