Pandemic demanded plastics, but not the recycled kind

15 Mar 2021

Efforts to combat coronavirus spread have produced a plastics surge.

That ramped-up plastic production provides fresh impetus to proposals aimed at curbing how much of that material gets dumped into the environment.

Manufacturers have been working overtime to supply disposable personal protective equipment, takeout food containers and packaging required for all those home deliveries.

Officials in some areas last year also delayed or rolled back restrictions on single-use plastic bags.

“Even where we had made strides to have items and packages be reusable, they went back to being disposable because people felt that was safer,” said Darby Hoover, a senior resource specialist with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

At the same time plastic usage increased, pandemic-depressed oil demand lowered the production cost of new “virgin” plastic. That further undermined the already shaky economic fundamentals of plastic recycling.

The marine conservation group OceansAsia estimated in a report that more than 1.5 billion masks entered the oceans in 2020, based on a global production estimate of 52 billion and a loss rate of 3%.

Continue reading at the Seattle Times