News ID: 275471
Published: 1114 GMT October 13, 2020

COVID-19 pandemic has led to more ocean plastic pollution

COVID-19 pandemic has led to more ocean plastic pollution
ANDREY NEKRASOV/BARCROFT MEDIA/GETTY IMAGES

Plastic and other garbage polluting in the Adriatic Sea, a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkans.

The coronavirus has worsened the amount of plastic polluting the world's oceans.

That’s according to Dave Ford, founder of the environmental literacy organization SoulBuffalo and the Ocean Plastics Leadership Network in the US, a group that brings activists and the industry together to develop solutions to ocean plastic pollution, wbur.org reported.

There is an “environmental silver lining” as a result of the coronavirus — carbon emissions have been reduced by more than 4%, many wildlife markets around the world have been shuttered and air quality in some places has slightly improved, Ford says.

But thanks to an increase in pandemic-related, non-recyclable materials such as take-out plastic containers and masks, 30% more waste has crept into our oceans, he noted.

“There's 129 billion face masks being made every month — enough that you could cover the entire country of Switzerland with face

masks at the end of this year if trends continue,” he said. “And a lot of these masks are ending up in the water.”

The masks look like jellyfish — thus, food — to turtles and other wildlife creatures, he said.

Very little of the plastic we use is actually recyclable. Sharon Lerner of The Intercept told Here & Now last year that “the vast majority of plastic that has ever been produced — 79% — has actually ended up in landfills or scattered around the world or burned, but not refashioned into new products.”

Even if the plastics we have can be reused, Ford said recycling programs across the globe are facing drastic budget cuts.

“We're starting to see recycling programs shuttered, waste picking communities operating at 50% or actually shutting down. They are the last line of defense between plastic and the environment,” he said.

 

   
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