According to scientific research, the coronavirus has intensified the “contamination” of the sea with plastic. The amount of waste in seawater increased by 26,000 tons.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant changes in plastic production and consumption. Nowadays, more and more plastic is used in everyday life, and this has an impact on the sea, that is, the natural environment in which it ends up.
The pandemic has led to a sudden increase in global demand for personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves, medical aprons and hand sanitizer dispensers. Of course, all this is thrown away after their use, and most of it ends up in the sea. Thus, an increase in sea pollution is observed all over the world.
The World Health Organization estimates that during the first period of the pandemic, 89 million medical masks were required every month worldwide, as well as 76 million disposable gloves and 1.6 million protective suits. Studies have shown that a large amount of these products ends up in the sea. Consuming habits have also changed during the pandemic.
Since most restaurants in Europe were closed to customers who wanted to dine indoors, many turned to take-out and delivery services using disposable plastic containers. That significantly increased the production and consumption of plastic. In addition, there is an increase in demand in online stores, and many goods for shipment are wrapped in plastic wrap.
While consumable plastic products have played an important role in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the short term, growing demand for these products could undermine EU efforts to reduce plastic pollution and move towards a more sustainable recycling and disposal system for this type of waste.
The production, consumption and disposal of additional single-use plastic products will have major negative impacts on the environment and climate, such as increased air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.