Now masks are floating onto beaches and shorelines.
During a recent visit, conservationists counted and removed 70 masks from a 100 metre stretch of beach. A week later, another 30 masks had washed up.
“Ever since society started wearing masks, the cause and effects of it are now being seen on the beaches,” Stokes said.
Hong Kong’s 7.5 million inhabitants produce six million tonnes of waste each year, only around 30 percent of it recycled.
Even before the coronavirus emerged, residents often wore facemasks on the daily commute, especially during the winter flu season.