Among every other problems the earth might be facing, one of the significant one is over usage of plastic. With air pollution and global warming, the ocean and seas are getting filled up with indestructible plastic.
With the normal lifestyle being banned due to COVID-19, one could hope for the pollution to go down. Although air pollution and sound pollution in places have drastically reduced, the plastic production has caused massive havoc all around the world. What are the basic reasons for the sudden rise?
Medical supplies– The biggest reason, as expected is the sudden increase in medical waste. From the PPE suits to masks and gloves, hospitals have disposed of the mammoth amount of plastic and rubber waste in the last few months. The medical staff, due to the close proximity with the patients had to be provided with extra care and protection. Along with that, another major disposed item was testing kits. Majorly hit countries during the peak produced unimaginable amount of plastic and rubber waste.
Hospitals in Wuhan, China produced more than 240 tons of daily waste during its peak, according to the Ministry of Ecology and Environment. While in normal conditions, the same city produced 40tons waste a day.
It has been predicted by Frost and Sullivan that the United States can generate enough medical wastes in just two months during the COVID-19 condition which would be equal to one year’s worth of waste.
1,400kg of biochemical waste is produced on a daily basis in Chennai. A similar or worse condition is expected in states like Maharashtra and West Bengal, where the situation is even dire.
Single-Use Plastics– the masks, gloves and bottle after bottles of sanitizer is the only source of security for the people, during the pandemic. This is the good measure to protect the body from pollution, allergens and infections of any kind. But the price paid for the protection is the pilling of coasts and oceans with plastic baggage. Even worse is the danger of inefficient waste management that will spread infection and the virus even more.
In Chennai, it was reported that 300kgs of COVID waste was collected daily from Tiruchy and surrounding areas.
Production of face masks in China rose to 116 million in February.
Online products- Due to the ongoing pandemic people inevitably had to depend on online shopping for necessities. Similarly, the online services had to up their game of packaging and sanitizing that increased the amount of plastic use. Using several sanitized layer to protect the article inside to providing safety kits to delivery people, it is indeed a huge increase in plastic usage.
Not just that, due to the pandemic people have been forbidden from visiting restaurants which forced customers to make use of online delivery and home service which automatically increased the use of disposable packaging, plates and containers. They may seem like small changes but when the changes are estimated in masses and over several months, the changes seem pretty realistic.
One such example would be the survey done by the Thailand Environment Institute which shows that plastic waste has increased from 1500 tons to 6,300 tons per day due to the sudden increase in home deliveries for food.
The condition in every country has forced them to take a necessary mean of safety in every front. While it is an important and necessary move, equal efforts must be put towards disposing of the waste safely and effectively in order to avoid further infection spread and water pollution.