South Africa: Fighting Covid-19 Should Not Mean That We Lose the War Against Plastic Pollution


As Covid-19 infection rates soar around the world, people are increasingly relying on single-use plastics as protection. The emerging threat to our environment from 'Covid waste' needs to be understood and addressed sooner rather than later.

The rise in Covid-19 cases across the world is seeing a parallel rise in vast quantities of plastic waste. Essential single-use plastic items that help to protect against the spread of the virus, such as masks, gloves, protective gowns and face shields, now commonly known as "Covid waste", are piling up in landfills and adding a new dimension to the global pollution crises.

Additionally, an upsurge in microplastics - both primary microplastics manufactured at a small size and typically found in hygienic and sanitation products, and secondary microplastics that will eventually break down from single-use Covid plastic waste items - is drastically reversing gains made in reducing our dependence on plastic and in curbing plastic pollution.

Plastic Free July, which marks its 10th anniversary this year, is an annual global call to find alternatives to plastic for items we use daily, lessen plastic pollution and preserve the environment. At least 90% of all waste in the ocean is plastic.

Unfortunately, this year the Covid-19...

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