What’s Going On Here?
More than 100 scientists and doctors have released a statement this week to reassure the public that reusable containers, if washed and handled properly, are safe to use during the Covid-19 pandemic. This comes amid fears of a U-turn in the environmental battle with plastic pollution and a surge in single-use plastic waste during recent months.
What Does This Mean?
Restaurants and food businesses have only been able to offer home delivery or takeaway options during Covid-19 restrictions and many won’t allow customers to bring their own containers, defaulting to disposables and increasing plastic waste.Demand is soaring for other disposables including: medical supplies, personal protective equipment, masks, wipes, gloves and cleaning agents. Plastic is indispensable in the healthcare environment and there are many reasons why it is the most reliable and affordable solution for PPE…at the moment.However, not all single-use plastic is as essential as the petrochemical industries would have us believe.Greenpeace helped coordinate the reusables statement, and they, along with other campaigners, are also accusing the plastics industry and oil companies of exploiting the Covid-19 crisis to lobby against bans on single-use plastics. In the US, some states rolled back or delayed plastic bag bans, and in Europe, the packaging industry is pushing against hard-won bans on single-use plastics due to come into force next year.
There was also growing concern that producers would increase output of cheap plastic to fuel demand and soak up some of the global glut of cheap oil and gas. That’s certainly not plastic-fantastic news!
Why Should We Care?
Plastic waste is disastrous for the environment and low-income communities. The notion that things can be thrown away is a myth and the impacts of disposal are disproportionate.Campaigning against plastic pollution has been successful in recent years including the UN declaring ocean plastic as a global crisis and an EU-wide ban on single-use plastics. Awareness of the impact of single use plastic is rising and we can’t afford to lose momentum on these positive plastic poly-cies.
The stories we are seeing about continued careless littering of UK parks and beauty spots and coastal communities reporting disposable gloves and masks finding their way to our oceans are another reminder that disposables are damaging the environment.
- Reuse that reusable – dig out containers and items you already own, wash them thoroughly and frequently with detergent and practice good hygiene. Always adhere to any guidance local to you.
- Source or make your own reusable face masks.
- Support local litter clean ups to help prevent waste ending up in our natural environment and oceans.
- Be Clear On Plastics with WRAP’s plastic FAQ campaign
- Follow the New Plastic Economy on the mission to make sure plastic never becomes waste or pollution. The aims are to:
- Eliminate all problematic and unnecessary plastic items.
- Innovate to ensure that the plastics we do need are reusable, recyclable, or compostable.
- Circulate all the plastic items we use to keep them in the economy and out of the environment.