Until 2020, many companies began to make to lessen or completely eliminate single use plastics. However, with the emergence of COVID19, the use of single use plastics has been on the rise. This is a difficult problem to solve, as single use plastic does help lessen the spread of the virus. However, these plastics will be around and pollute the Earth for hundreds of years. Many companies are struggling with being environmentally friendly and COVID19 safe.
The rise of single use plastic
The most noticeable piece of both single use plastic and waste are disposable face masks. Ideally, these surgical face masks are to be worn once to prevent contamination. Unfortunately, there has been an increase in rubbish due to these masks, and masks have appeared as rubbish on the streets, trains, and even in the ocean. Additionally, the development of the COVID19 vaccine will create more demand for single use plastics. From disposal gloves to needles, single use plastics will become even more prevalent.
Single use plastics related to behaviour changes
COVID19 has drastically changed our behaviour as well. Many people are nervous about leaving their home to shop, thus leading to more online shopping. E-commerce has faired well recently as many people opt to shop from home. The packaging used is often plastic and cannot be recycled. Another behaviour change that people have shown is getting take-out meals. While take-out meals can be handy, they create a large amount of rubbish that eventually ends up in the bin.
Stress on waste management and disposal
The global pandemic has created huge amounts of stress for waste disposal. This extra pressure can result in poor management, thus leading to improper disposal. Improper disposals, such as burning waste, can be harmful to the planet. The sudden backlog of waste has burdened waste disposal companies such as Map Waste who have reported a huge rise in requests from local authorities to remove illegally dumped waste. Many people have turned to fly-tipping as a mechanism to remove their waste. However, illegally dumping waste is a huge problem for communities. Once a person starts a pile, it can be extremely difficult to end the dumping.
The COVID19 pandemic has shown that single use plastic is not going away anytime soon. This does not bode well for the environment. Environmental groups and politicians will have to work diligently to come up with environmentally friendly solutions before it is too late. With no end in sight, it is unknown how long this will continue.