FACE masks and gloves were found on almost a quarter of Scotland’s beaches during recent litter picks.
More than two thirds of inland litter picks found personal protective equipment (PPE), according to the Marine Conservation Society (MCS).
The charity said 400 volunteers headed to nearly 100 Scottish beaches to clear and survey litter during the autumn.
Lizzie Prior, the MCS’s “Great British Beach Clean” coordinator, said: “The amount of PPE our volunteers found on beaches and inland this year is certainly of concern.
“Considering masks were only made mandatory a matter of months ago, the spike in their presence on our shores is worrying.
“Whilst we continue to battle with the ongoing presence of other single-use litter, PPE pollution cannot be part of our new normal.”
Prior said disposable masks and gloves pose a threat to wildlife on land and at sea, with creatures becoming entangled in the debris or even trying to eat it.
Catherine Gemmell, the MCS’s Scotland conservation officer, added: “So much avoidable plastic waste is still being produced and discarded on Scotland’s shores, eventually ending up in the ocean.
“Wet wipes, cigarette butts and other plastic single-use items remain prolific and are among the most commonly found items this year.
“We use the data collected during the surveying and clearing of litter from Scotland’s beaches to show the Scottish Government what urgently needs to be done to stop the plastic tide at source.
“The Scottish Government’s single-use plastic consultation, which is open now, is a fantastic opportunity to make your voice heard and tell the government what single-use plastic items you want to see banned.
“Scotland is leading the charge in introducing a deposit return scheme but the work is certainly not over.”
Read more stories on Scottish Field’s wildlife pages.