The amount of plastic waste floating in the ocean is rapidly increasing since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic

Mask in the Ocean


The amount of plastic waste floating in the ocean is rapidly increasing since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic

A recent news item from the Washington Post states that the world has generated about 8 million tons of pandemic plastic waste, and most of it is now floating in the ocean.

The news item by Amy Cheng, Washington Post’s journalist, is based on a study, conducted by a group of researchers situated in China and the United States, which was published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal. The research is one of the first to measure the scale of plastic waste linked to the pandemic.

Mask in the Ocean

Gloves, masks and bottles of hand sanitiser have been collected around France’s Côte d’Azur. Photograph: Courtesy Operation Terre-Mer

The study found that although only about 30 percent of all coronavirus cases were detected in Asia as of late August, the region was responsible for 72 percent of the global plastic discharge. According to the researchers this is happening because the use of disposable protective equipment is higher, and also because countries like China and India have lower levels of waste treatment. On the other hand, North America and Europe, which were badly hit by COVID-19, produced relatively less amount of pandemic waste.

The situation was worsened by the suspension or relaxation of restrictions on single-use plastic products globally. New York state’s ban on single-use plastic bags, which took effect in spring 2020, was enforced only that fall.

The increase in plastic wastе also had an impact on wildlife. 61 cases of animals being killed or disrupted by plastic waste due to the health crisis are recorded until July this year, according to a Dutch scientist-founded tracking project.

You can read the full news item and its sources here.

Category: News, Other relevant news


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