COVID-19 Has Caused an ‘Explosion’ of Plastic Pollution

COVID-19 Has Caused an ‘Explosion’ of Plastic Pollution

This post originally appeared on Gizmodo UK, which is gobbling up the news in a different timezone.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a huge amount of new plastic pollution, says the charity Surfers Against Sewage.

Apparently, we’ve all gone back to single-use plastic in droves, and some inconsiderate gits are leaving it on the beach or throwing it into rivers, alongside their used face masks.


Starting this month, the charity will be naming companies whose refuse is found most often, to try to shame them into taking action.

Spokesperson Jack Middleton explains:

“Since lockdown has started to be lifted we’ve witnessed a new wave of plastic pollution littering our beaches in the form of disposable masks and gloves.

While the PPE has helped to save lives over the past few months, we now need to consider how we dispose of it properly to prevent it from flowing into our rivers and oceans and destroying our beaches.

We’re used to seeing plastic bottles and bags when we’re surfing but this new type of plastic pollution is something that no-one could have foreseen.”

Middleton also points out that the 5p plastic carrier bag charge has been temporarily scrapped for takeaways, and the impending ban on plastic products including straws, stirrer sticks and cotton buds has had to be delayed.

The new scheme is called Return to Offender, and will see found plastic waste photographed and posted online to embarrass its manufacturers into doing something.

Meanwhile, you can help by using a reusable mask rather than disposables — just remember to wash it properly between uses. [BBC]