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Reducing Plastic Use During The Pandemic

The global pandemic has seen single-use plastic and disposable items suddenly surge in use as part of the response to the crisis.
Person Throwing Rubber Gloves Into Metal Trash Can On The Floor

The issue of single-use plastic and the impact it has on the environment has been at the forefront for some time now and countries everywhere have started to realise how damaging it can be.

But the global pandemic has thrown something of a spanner in the works, with single-use plastic and disposable items suddenly seeing a surge in use as part of the response to the global pandemic.

Disposable gloves are now seen everywhere, as are face masks (now a necessity), while the ban on plastic straws has been pushed back until October and the 5p charge for plastic bags suspended, iNews reports.

In England, it’s estimated that we use 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic-tipped cotton buds annually. Around ten per cent of these cotton buds are flushed down the toilet, which means they can find their way into waterways and oceans, threatening our precious marine wildlife.

A recent survey found that 67 per cent of adults in the UK were concerned about increased plastic waste during lockdown – so no doubt many of you out there will be pleased to hear that steps are now being taken to address the problem.

Experts have said that reusable coffee cups are now safe to reintroduce as long as they are washed thoroughly between uses.

Campaigners City to Sea has launched Contactless Coffee, guidelines that can help cafes work out how to start allowing reusable cups in a covid-secure way. More eco-friendly PPE is also in the pipeline, with designers trying out the use of recycled plastics and compostable visors.

And climate site Ours to Save and consultancy EcoDisco are now campaigning for pubs to go back to reusable glasses, a conversation you can join on social media with the hashtag #Plasticfreepints.

“When you have single-use cups you end up with loads of used cups all over the bar, over the floor, and that’s a much bigger hygiene risk,” founder of EcoDisco Hadi Ahmadzadeh argued.

However, Veolia utility group’s Richard Kirkman did urge people to keep pandemic-related plastic waste in perspective, saying that it’s more important for the government to standardise recycling systems and set up deposit return schemes for plastic bottles.

Other measures the government carried out under the umbrella of the Resources and Waste Strategy to help eliminate avoidable plastic waste includes a ban on microbeads and the 5p charge on plastic bags in major supermarkets (reducing usage by 90 per cent).

Environment minister Rebecca Pow said the ban on straws will make sure that the environment is protected, while meeting the needs of disabled people and anyone with medical requirements.

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