Could Corona outbreak undo the ban on single-use plastics?

It is estimated by the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UCLA and Princeton University that the virus lives on plastic surfaces for 3 days. Researchers have found that reusable bags do carry pathogens, although there is no evidence about whether they might transmit the virus that causes COVID-19.

How has this affected the use of plastics?

Less than six months ago, Massachusetts was on the verge of passing a state-wide ban on single-use plastic bags. At least 130 towns and cities across the commonwealth had already limited their use, and in November 2019 the bill banning these bags passed the state senate by an overwhelming margin. It seemed like everything was on track for Massachusetts to become the sixth state in the country to ban this major source of plastic pollution ― one that requires a million barrels of oil to produce and kills an estimated 100,000 marine animals each year. All that, however, was before the Corona virus. Instead of signing a plastic bag ban, this week signed an order that banned shoppers from bringing reusable bags to the grocery store and overrides all municipal restrictions on single-use plastic bags. Another example will be, corporate giant Starbucks has banning their customers to bring back reusable cups for refill.

This creates an increase in the use of single-use plastics!

While the air around us have become cleaner and the water bodies fit for use, once the entire COVID-19 situation settles we might end up visualizing a huge amount of plastics ending up in landfills and as open dumping.

Conscious use of plastics by public is the right way to overcome this mess. Usage of cloth bags that can be washed and reused is a viable option. Plastics can be stored and later be disposed when the situation turns normal and recycling units are back on track.

It is time for us to act responsibly so that the waste from COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t haunt us in the future!

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