A propaganda in making
Since the beginning of the pandemic, fossil fuel and plastic industry groups have been vocally advocating the use of single-use plastics, packaging and bags citing that reusable bags and food containers can potentially spread the Corona Virus. Encouraging customers to preferably choose, allegedly safer single-use plastics like disposable cutlery, bags etc. is nothing but a hoax in making.
As the COVID-19 virus spreads across the country, single-use plastics will only become more vital. We live longer, healthier, and better because of single-use plastics.
– Mr. Tony Radoszewski, President and CEO, Plastic Industry Association
Single-use plastic is seen as a first line of defense against the deadly Corona-virus. The surge in demand for disposable medical products such as single-use gloves, protective plastic screens, surgical masks has created a huge deluge of medical waste. As per the reports from South China Morning Post, medical waste volume has had a sharp increase from 40 to 240 tons/day at the peak of the pandemic with more than 28 Chinese cities’ medical waste treatment facilities working at par or excessive capacity.
Plastic packaging is also enjoying a dream run and an increase in popularity, thanks to COVID-19, since it is supposedly seen as a healthier, more sanitary option, readily available. Spends on the packaged foods are soaring and reusable bags are being banned. Across the world, there has been an escalation in the usage of plastic and plastic waste with COVID as an excuse. In 2015, the world was producing plastic in excess of 380 Million Tons, pandemic such as COVID is sure to accelerate this trend.
While the use of surgical masks, PPEs, gloves is unambiguously necessary, health experts encompassing eminent virologists, epidemiologists don’t think that a pivot to single-use plastic against a reusable alternative is obligatory. It just has to be ensured that reusables are properly washed. On June 22nd, in a statement released, 125 experts across 18 nationalities have vouched for the safety of reusables as long as they are cleaned regularly.
Fear-mongering by the Plastic Industry has overblown the risk of transmission via surface contact. Reusables have been projected as dangerous petri dishes for the contamination. As per the data available to CDC, there have been no documented cases of COVID-19 caused by transmission through surface. As an advocate of reusables, the idea is not to throw care out of the window. Studies have shown that the virus has persisted on hard surfaces for a surprisingly long time and ironically lasted longest on plastics (up to six days).
The real fear amidst the increasing concern for the pandemic is, undoing of the progress made on the climate change front. Pre-pandemic, single use plastic bans across various nations, emission control norms for airline industry and many more, have come down crumbling. Misinformation on reusables has been rampant amidst the ruse surrounding the pandemic. It is incumbent for us to make an informed decision while evaluating the alternatives. More so, inoculating people with knowledge to counter such deceptions in order to protect people’s lives and future of the planet.
We shouldn’t mortgage the future to the current panic
–Dr. Ben Locwin, Sr. Consultant, Public Health Assessment, CDC