Single-use plastic is playing a huge part in the midst of the global pandemic as restaurants strive to utilize the most health effective methods while operating. As the global economy begins to open and use plastic, most of which has never been recycled, concerns rise on the residual effects it may cause.
Prior to COVID-19, many States had been able to make progress regarding the transition away from single-use plastic, much of which is dumped into the ocean and ultimately affects our environment. The shift towards paper and other reusable products was in action, but has been put on pause as citizens work to follow the most hygienic methods.
Several cities have halted previously established bans on plastic bags in order to avoid the spread of the virus through reusable items. Municipalities are also cutting down on recycling activity in fear of health repercussions.
Restaurants have found themselves expanding the amount of plastic needed for takeout orders. For example, the well known chain, Just Salad had started to manufacture reusable bowls and ultimately reduce over 75,000 pounds of plastic per year. However, as a result of the pandemic the company was forced to put a stop to the procedure and return to the use of disposable items.
“The environmental fallout is definitely real,” Sandra Noonan, Just Salad’s chief sustainability officer said.
Many other big name chains, such as starbucks and Dunkin’ have also shifted back to single-use plastic. Environmentalists are adamant the pandemic is a serious threat to any progress previously achieved.
“The plastic industry seized on the pandemic as an opportunity to try to convince people that single use plastic is necessary to keep us safe, and that reusables are dirty and dangerous,” said John Hocevar, ocean campaign director at Greenpeace. “The fact that neither of these things is supported by the best available science was irrelevant.”
“Exploitation of Covid-19 fears ultimately made people less safe, distracting attention from the need to focus on the risk of airborne transmission and critical measures like wearing masks and maintaining social distancing,” he added.