25 June, 2020
Around the world, Covid-19 seems to have stopped progress towards reducing our use of single use plastic in its tracks. Does a health crisis really need to become an environmental one as well?
We now wear gloves and masks to keep us safe when we go out. We order take-out and groceries online to avoid leaving the house. And remember when it looked like disposable coffee cups were going out of fashion? Not any more, as customers returning to cafes and bars are told they can’t use their reusables, so single use is the only option.
We’ve seen the shots of latex gloves littering New York’s streets and London’s canals, and surgical masks polluting Hong Kong and France,. Not surprising when you learn that the global market for disposable masks is expected to grow 20,000% in 2020.
However, solutions for a more eco-friendly COVID-19 recovery are increasingly available. Over a hundred scientists have already put their names to a statement explaining why reusables are safe, and how to use them during CV-19. Our key take-away: maintain basic hygiene. As for PPE, the race to create a more sustainable industry has seen the creation of the world’s first plastic-free visor made from wood pulp and paper board, making it both recyclable and compostable.
In the rush to fix this health crisis, we must be wary not to further damage the environment. This means using alternatives to single-use protective gear wherever possible – and disposing of the rest responsibly.
By Marie Guérinet