While many noticed the positive impact of Lockdown on the Environment, we failed terribly at acknowledging the rise in Plastic pollution. because the world is ‘unlocking’ the skies are grey again, and ‘COVID waste’ comes as another problem. Earth has already had its share of bearing with plastic but the demand of single use plastic products has increased manifolds during the Pandemic. Disposable masks, Latex gloves, sanitizer bottles and cans, face-shields, takeaway food containers and bubble wrap for online shopped products are some samples of waste which has heaping at the ocean beds within the past few months. And this is often happening at a time when UN had already declared Plastic Pollution in Oceans as a worldwide Crisis. In 2018, UN Environment estimated that 13 million tonnes of plastic goes into ocean annually . COVID waste isn’t just reaching oceans, instead, it’s being managed irresponsibly ashore too. In an instance a 6 year in England found a bit of surgical mask in her Mac D chicken nugget.
Increase in Demand thanks to Pandemic
Increase in demand of masks, gloves, sanitizer seems obvious, but what proportion increase is it? Let’s take masks, for instance , Demand for disposable masks was of 6 thousand crore masks in 2019 and, consistent with Grand View Research (a business consulting firm), it’ll be 12 lakh crore in 2020. Almost 2000% increase. In March 2020, China used 116 million of disposable – 12 times quite in February 2020, official data show. Total production of masks in China is predicted to exceed 100 billion in 2020, consistent with a report by Chinese consultancy iiMedia Research. The us generated a whole year’s worth of medical waste in two months at the peak of the pandemic, consistent with another consultancy, Frost & Sullivan. Indian statistics are still not clear.
Hampered Recycling Mechanism
2017 study published within the journal Science. this is often because the assembly of fresh plastic or, virgin plastic, has become cheaper than recycling old plastic. The recycling of plastic has become further difficult thanks to the Pandemic. because the world locked down, Recycling Plants were shut, where as single use plastic medical equipments were still being produced. At an equivalent time collecting and rag picking plastic was also banned thanks to the fear of the spread of the contagion. this stuff have lead Recycling companies struggling.
They don’t see a light-weight at the top of the tunnel.” Since the coronavirus struck Recyclers’ businesses have shrunk, by quite 20% in Europe, by 50% in parts of Asia and the maximum amount as 60% for a few firms within the us . Greg Janson, whose St. Louis, Missouri, recycling company QRS has been in business for 46 years, says his position would are unimaginable a decade ago: The us has become one among the most cost effective places to form virgin plastic, so more is coming onto the market and therefore the pandemic exacerbated this tsunami.
The recycled plastic to form them is 83% to 93% costlier than new bottle-grade plastic, consistent with market analysts at the Independent Commodity Intelligence Services (ICIS). The manufacture of 4 plastic bottles alone releases the equivalent greenhouse emission emissions of driving one mile during a car, consistent with the planet Economic Forum, supported a study by the drinks industry.
Are there efforts to Recycle?
Reuters recently surveyed 12 of the most important oil and chemicals firms globally – BASF, Chevron, Dow, Exxon, Formosa Plastics, INEOS, LG Chem, LyondellBasell, Mitsubishi Chemical, SABIC, Shell and Sinopec. However, their investments in these efforts are a fraction of these going into making new plastic, Reuters found. They couldn’t explain of what proportion they’re investing in waste reduction. Three declined to comment intimately or didn’t respond. Majority said they channel their efforts through a gaggle called the ‘Alliance to finish Plastic Waste’ which is additionally backed by commodity companies, and which has pledged $1.5 billion over subsequent five years thereon effort. Its 47 members, most of whom are within the industry , had combined annual revenue of just about $2.5 trillion last year, consistent with a Reuters tally of company results. In total, commitments by the Alliance and therefore the companies surveyed amounted to but $2 billion over five years, or $400 million a year, the Reuters survey found. That’s a fraction of their sales Interestingly enough, there are those that think plastic is sweet , or at-least, is important
“Over subsequent few decades, population and income growth are expected to make more demand for plastics, which help support safety, convenience and improved living standards,” ExxonMobil spokeswoman Sarah Nordin. Six said they were also developing new technologies to reuse waste plastic.
Some said other packaging products can cause more emissions than plastics; because plastic is light, it’s indispensable for the world’s consumers and may help reduce emissions. a couple of called on governments to enhance waste management infrastructure. “Higher production capacities don’t necessarily mean more plastic waste pollution,” said a spokesman at BASF SE of Germany, the world’s biggest chemicals producer, adding that it’s been innovating for several years in packaging materials to scale back the resources required. The Petrochemical industry says disposable plastics have saved lives. In March, PLASTICS wrote to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, calling for a rollback of bag bans on health grounds. It said plastic bags are safer because germs survive reusable bags and other substances.
Let’s create more plastic because we aren’t ready to pollute through our conventional means now
Exxon forecasts that demand for petrochemicals will rise by 4% a year over subsequent few decades, the corporate said in an investor presentation in March. And oil’s share of energy for transport will fall from quite 90% in 2018 to only under 80% or as low as 20% by 2050, BP Plc said in its annual market report in September 2020. The Pandemic worsened things for these companies when the planet went under Lockdown the demand for petroleum crashed then did its prices.
The oil and gas industry plans to spend around $400 billion over subsequent five years on plants to form raw materials for virgin plastic, consistent with a study in September by Carbon Tracker, an energy think factory . this is often because, as a growing fleet of electrical vehicles and improved engine efficiency reduce fuel demand, the industry hopes rising demand for brand spanking new plastic can assure future growth in demand for oil and gas. it’s relying on soaring use of plastic-based commodity by many new middle-class consumers in Asia et al. . This year alone, Exxon, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and BASF have announced petrochemical plant investments in China worth a combined $25 billion, tapping into rising demand for commodity within the world’s most populous country.
An additional 176 new petrochemical plants are planned within the next five years, of which nearly 80% are going to be in Asia, energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie says. within the us since 2010, energy companies have invested quite $200 billion in 333 plastic and other chemical projects, consistent with the American Chemistry Council (ACC), an industry body. Those investments have come because the U.S. industry sought to capitalise on a sudden abundance of cheap gas released by the shale revolution. Plans to take a position so heavily in new plastic are “quite a concerning move,” said Lisa Beauvilain, Head of Sustainability at Impax Asset Management, a fund with $18.5 billion under management. Today, thousands of small-scale vendors within the developing world stock daily goods in plastic pouches, or sachets, which persevere strips from the roofs of roadside shacks and price a couple of cents a go. Although, sachets are very difficult to recycle commodity firms including Nestle and P&G say they’re working hard to form their packaging either recyclable or reusable. for instance , P&G said it’s a project in schools within the Manila region which aims to gather a million sachets for “upcycling.” The Coca-Cola Co told Reuters in September it missed a target to urge recycled plastic into half its UK packaging by early 2020 thanks to COVID-19 delays. the corporate said it hopes now to satisfy that by November.
Coca-Cola, Nestle and PepsiCo are the world’s top three plastic polluters for 2 years running, consistent with a yearly brand audit by break away From Plastic, an NGO. These companies have for many years made voluntary goals to extend recycled plastic in their products. they need largely did not meet them. Coke and Nestle said it are often hard to urge the plastic they have from recycled sources.
In the Philippines, Vietnam and India, the maximum amount as 80% of the recycling industry wasn’t operating during the peak of the pandemic. And there was a 50% drop by demand for recycled plastic on the average across South and Southeast Asia , consistent with Circulate Capital, a Singapore-based investor in Asian recycling operations. “The combination of the impact of COVID-19 and low oil prices is sort of a double whammy” for plastic recycling, said Circulate’s CEO, Rob Kaplan.
What are you able to do?
Well, a lot. it’s the economic interests of companies that lie at the guts of consumerism, not consumers’ interests. If the consumers identify that, it might solve half the matter. it’s not that we should always not buy plastic products that are helping you protect yourself from the contagion. But one can obviously use a reusable cloth mask, can obviously substitute gloves and therefore the use of sanitizer with frequent hand washing. A surgical disposable mask that has plastic in parts will survive for 450 years and might just find yourself taking several marine lives before completely decomposing into the world . Soon the planet will have a vaccine which can definitely be a win for humanity, but ever imagined where will the plastic which will be present within the syringes wont to vaccinate 7.8 billion world population will go? One can save the environment or at-least play his\her role in it. And it all starts from being aware. So next time you’re taking a straw, only for your convenience, believe the fish which may die choked by it.