The pandemic generates 8.4 million tons of disposable plastic

We all remember the amount of waste we generate in this pandemic era with the use of covid-19 protection systems. If the magnitude and fate of these Poorly managed plastic waste It was already a problem on a global scale, with a global health crisis like this, it just got bigger.

An international team of scientists from the universities of Nanjing (China) and California San Diego (USA) quantified this using an ocean plastics measurement model called MITgcm the impact of the pandemic on discharges of this material.

According to their results, about 8.4 million tons of plastic waste associated with the pandemic in 193 countries as of August 23, 2021. In addition, the authors estimated that about 25,900 tonnes of waste was dumped into the oceans.

About 8.4 million tons of plastic waste associated with the pandemic had been generated in 193 countries as of August 23, 2021

“For this research we considered hospital medical waste, packaging material from online purchases, virus test kits and personal protection equipment”, he tells SINC. Yiming peng, from the University of Nanjing and lead author of the study.

Most of these remains were hospital (73%) and most discharges came from Asia (72%). For this reason, scientists emphasize in their work the need for greater demands on their management in developing countries.

“We found that Brazil, India and the United States are the three countries with the most plastic waste due to the pandemic, while small countries with less population have less, such as New Caledonia or Greenland”, adds the scientist.

Most of these remains were from hospitals (73%) and most discharges came from Asia (72%)

This study shows that while demand for plastic personal protective equipment soared during the pandemic, treatment, disposal and recycling did not keep pace. “The world has placed the fight the virus as a higher priority,” says Peng.

A garbage that will reach the beaches and the bottom of the ocean

The authors developed a model that simulates the fate of discarded plastic waste as it goes through processes such as drift and fragmentation. According to the model, 71% of excess waste in the oceans will likely hit the beaches by the end of 2021.

“We take into account all plastic waste since the beginning of the pandemic in December 2019. We verified that the emissions associated with plastic waste represent 1.5% of the total, that is, those associated with other human activities”, he continues.

It is estimated that, by the end of the century, almost all plastic waste associated with the pandemic will go to the bottom of the sea or to the beaches. According to the authors, the results reinforce the need to improve plastic waste disposal and treatment measures and to raise awareness about the environmental impact plastic waste associated with the pandemic.

“Many laws on disposable plastic (SUP) have been withdrawn or postponed. For example, a proposal for ban on plastic bags New York statewide was suspended in May 2020. Thailand had a 30% growth in production of these products. Similarly, in Europe, EU legislatures were asked to reverse the ban on a number of SUP articles. It is a global challenge in terms of efficient waste management and recycling”, he warns.

Source: SYNC

Rights: Creative Commons.


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