​Single-Use Plastics, Pollution, and Coronavirus

It may seem to many to be an odd connection, but the Coronavirus global pandemic has triggered an uptick in the sale, use, and disposal of single-use plastics across the globe.

The reasons for this surge in plastic usage are varied. Some make sense. Some are based in misinformation. Others are somewhat outside of our control.

As people have managed shelter-in-place orders, they’ve relied upon various types of pre-packaged or processed foods, much of which comes packaged in plastic in some capacity. Bottled water, sanitary wipes, hand sanitizer bottles, cleaning agents, disposable masks and gloves…and the list goes on. People have gone to what they believe to be a safer option, with plastics that they can use once and then never touch again.

Not all of these decisions are being made by consumers. Restaurants, only able to provide take-out orders, must package to-go food so it can be delivered or picked up. This most often generates plastic waste. Think of the amount of plastic silverware, containers, and bags that have been used since this pandemic started shutting down life as we know it. 

This plastic influx has been furthered with the standard instituted by many grocery stores that do not allow shoppers to bring in reusable, cloth grocery bags. The fear is that reusable bags can further spread the virus. While no evidence suggests that there’s a calculable difference in risk between those using plastic grocery bags and those using reusable, the point is that our culture has changed. Precaution and concern has forced many of us into positions of plastic use where we previously had the option of being choosier.

And another example of excessive plastic use within this pandemic is best summarized in this article from the World Economic Forum

“And the imperative to prevent the spread of coronavirus means tonnes of medical waste is being generated. For example, hospitals and aged care facilities have been advised to double-bag clinical waste from COVID-19 patients. While this is a necessary measure, it adds to the plastic waste problem.”

Regardless of the reasons, we have to be constantly assessing the impact that our decisions are having on the ecosystem we are so desperately dependent upon. At Filtrol, we understand that situations come up that force our hands to use plastic in ways that damage our planet. We support the efforts being made to end this virus with as little loss of human life as possible. We also remain committed to helping stop the constant and costly release of plastics into our ecosystem.