COVID-19 caused a plastic pandemic, says Australian environmental groups

Plastic pollution was already ubiquitous before the outbreak of the CCP virus, but with the proliferation of disposable masks, gloves and food packaging, the heap of plastic waste has skyrocketed over the last two years. ..

According to a new study, 3 million face masks per minute are put into the environment, reaching 129 billion a month.

Most of them are made from soft plastic Cannot be recycled, As scientists say, they release toxic chemical pollutants and microplastics into the environment and take up to 450 years to break down.

In Australia, less than 4% of soft plastics are recycled, even though they are the most deadly consumer plastics for marine wildlife.

According to a February report by the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 87,000 tonnes of personal protective equipment were ordered and shipped to the country between March 2020 and November 2021.

It only takes into account COVID-19 merchandise procured through the joint United Nations Emergency Initiative, not waste generated by the public or other initiatives.

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Supporters wearing protective masks in the 3rd test match of the Australian and Indian series held in Sydney, Australia on January 7, 2021. (MarkKolbe / Getty Images)

Australians urged to count masks to measure the effects of a plastic pandemic

As the environment feels the effects of COVID-19 sickness, Australia’s largest community-based environmental event, Clean Up Australia Day, will be held on March 6th to measure the extent of the country’s face mask problem. Start the project.

This project will aggregate the number of discarded face masks and allow organizations to identify the number, trends and impacts of the proliferation of plastic waste types across Australia. Pip Kiernan, Chair of Clean Up Australia, states that there is currently no statistical study on this issue.

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The environment is still affected by the pandemic. (Australia cleanup)

“Thanks to COVID, our environmental problems have not been resolved. In fact, they have escalated because of the pile of garbage created.” Kiernan. Said..

“Disposable masks don’t belong to the environment. We’re calling on volunteers to get together to help remove and count them on Australia’s Cleanup Day.”

Plastic alternatives made from food waste

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Fresh bread and pastries in Sydney, Australia during the Coronavirus Pandemic on August 3, 2020. (Rick Everett via AP)

In addition to mask waste, fewer food items are sold unpacked or displayed at counters without being individually packed, so more plastic packaging is being discarded.

To address this, Thoo Yin Yin, Senior Lecturer at Monash University and her team are working on an innovative alternative to petroleum-based plastic food packaging.

Instead of using disposable plastics, they are investigating the possibility of using food waste to create barrier films called biopolymer films.

“It provides a non-toxic alternative to disposable plastic food packaging and can be used in packaging fruits, dried foods, oils, etc. Its high biodegradability makes it easy to dispose of,” Yin said. I am saying. Said About projects that are expected to hit the market within two years.

Jesse Chan


Jessie Zhang is a Sydney-based reporter with Australian news and a focus on health and the environment. Contact her at [email protected]