The need to protect ourselves from COVID-19 imposed an unconscious tendency of damaging the environment: personal protective tools (PPE) like masks, gloves and gowns were crucial to protect not only medical personnel and workers frontline but everyone.
In addition to these equipments, it’s recommended to use single-use containers, mainly in catering services.
Along the “Côte d’Azur” in France, in a cleaning initiative last May by the environmental NGO, Opération Mer Propre, volunteers discovered dozens of floating masks and gloves.
Although the World Health Organization recommends cloth masks for social distancing, there has been an increased use of latex gloves and surgical masks that cannot be recycled and have not been properly disposed of.
“The way I see these masks in the environment is just another addition to the ever-growing marine debris crisis our oceans are facing,” said OceansAsia co-founder, Gary Stokes, to The Independent.
With the price of single-use plastic at an all-time low linked to the oil crisis, environmentalists are concerned about the fact that plastic producers will pump more plastics to the market to supply increased demand and absorb some of the global oil glut.
Hospitals generate more than 29 pounds (> 36 USD) of waste per bed per day, according to Practice Greenhealth, a networking organization for sustainable health care in Reston, Virginia, United States.
Plastic waste is piling up in some regions and some recycling companies have financial problems, so plastic pollution is expected to double.
“Once the supply chain is restored, I expect there to be a massive push to make everything disposable, out of fear of infection transmission,” said to The New York Times, Dr. Jodi Sherman, Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and of Epidemiology (Environmental Health Sciences) at the Yale School of Public Health, where she is also the founding director of the Center for Climate Change.