Plastic waste issue worsens amid the coronavirus pandemic

People have seen limited interaction with the nature since the COVID-19 lockdown.

But it doesn't mean pollution has paused.

Environmental campaigners have noticed a surge of single-use plastic waste amid the coronavirus  pandemic which has posed threats to our ocean, soil, and air.

For many, wearing masks and gloves has become routine to contain the virus. But a lot of the personal protective equipment (PPE) is made of plastic and not recyclable.

An environmental activist from Oceans Asia has collected over 70 discarded masks on beaches in Hong Kong just in a few weeks since the outbreak.

A recent report from Allied Market Research shows that the global demand for PPE keeps growing and the industry's revenue will nearly triple by 2027, compared to 2019.  

To minimize the spread of the virus, people have high demand for takeout food, bottled water, and online shopping.

Bans on single-use plastics have been lifted in some U.S. states.

Many retailers have started to ban reusable bags over fears of transmission.Waste and recycling collection services were delayed or paused for safety reasons.    

Countries are now seeing a sharp rise in the single-use plastic waste including wrappings, containers, packaging and plastic utensils.

In Thailand, Bangkok alone has consumed 62 percent more plastic in April compared to the same month in last year.

The world now produces over 380 million tons of plastic every year, but only nine percent of them are recycled. Majority of plastic items ended up in landfills and oceans.

The United Nations estimates up to 13 million tons of plastic are dumped in the oceans every year and half of them are single-use items.  

Thousands of marine animals die after eating plastic litter each year.    

Plastic bags we use in everyday can take 10-20 years to decompose in landfills. But plastic bottles can take 450 years.

Although plastic is an efficient material in modern society, it is still quite challenging for our current recycling and waste system to keep it out of the nature.

To help solve plastic waste issues, consumers should litter plastic items more properly.

Environmental activists urge more countries to ban single-use plastics. 

Taking action now could help combat plastic pollution at the source.