COVID-19 Plastic Waste 🌏: One thing people noticed in this global pandemic is the supposed “cleaning” of the Earth. For example, Venice’s Canals was reported to have become sparkly clean and clear because of people staying at their homes. But, what they do not know is that while the water indeed looks clear, that is only because of the sediments sinking to the bottom because of no boats up and running to stir the sediments up.

The same can be said for the COVID-19 global pandemic; while you might find it true that pollution lessened these past few months, well, get ready for a surprise: the pollution – especially plastic – will only worsen if left unchecked. Read on for an in-depth review.


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READ: Types Of Plastic ♺


A Sudden Surge Of Plastic Waste Due To Covid-19

It is only natural for people to think that fewer people going out of their homes means less pollution. They might think that with almost all of the stores closed, Earth will finally clean and heal itself of all the impurities. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

A new surge of plastic waste arose amidst the global pandemic COVID-19. Grocery stores, in particular, brought back the once-banned plastic bags due to people not wanting to bring reusable bags with them for groceries; they fear that using such bags could spread the disease.

Additionally, to add to the confusion, the plastics industry took the opportunity to push for the lifting of the plastic-reducing measures in these times. They argue that poorly sanitised reusable bags exposed to the environment may become grounds for the virus. According to reports, some grocery shops bar consumers from bringing their own reusable bags in fear of spreading the coronavirus.



Aside from plastic bags, there has also been a rise in demands for personal protective equipment or PPE for short. Manufacturers work day and night to produce PPEs like masks, gloves, and other medical equipment made from plastic for distribution and marketing purposes. As a result, we will see that much of it is not properly disposed of. COVID-19 PPE plastic waste pollution will continue to rise if the virus itself does not weaken in the following weeks or even months.


False Information

I personally do not know why people – in these trying times – reject the idea of reusable bags for carrying goods. For one, single-use plastics do not help in stopping the spread of the virus. A recent experiment published in The New England Journal of Medicine shows that the coronavirus tends to linger longer when in contact with plastic and stainless steel. It can stay for as long as 72 hours after application to these surfaces. As a result of this experiment, it can be said that using plastic bags when buying goods will only increase the chance of spreading the virus. Furthermore, it not only puts a risk on the consumers but also on the frontline grocery clerks working there. After all, they come in contact with all sorts of people and plastic every day.

You cannot even recycle the COVID-19 plastic waste produced because recycling facilities have stopped operations in regards to the lockdown. And, what is really scary from reading the study is the improperly disposed of COVID-19 plastic waste with coronavirus remnants scattered all over the public area. You also have to factor in the recyclers that process this plastic waste. In the event that recycling facilities do continue operations, they might get infected if the plastic they recycle was in contact with someone with the coronavirus.


What We Can Do To Lessen COVID-19 Plastic Waste

You do not need to use plastic bags for buying groceries. The plastic ban should still stand in this global pandemic and safety measures on bringing reusable bags should be implemented.

The advantage of using a reusable bag, aside from helping lessen the plastic waste, is that you can wash it as many times as you want to remove the germs, bacteria, or in this case, viruses that stay in it.

As for the COVID PPE waste such as plastic gloves and masks, they should be disposed of properly. These types of waste should be considered as infectious waste (you can also consider the contaminated plastic bag as infectious waste). Here, I will enumerate guidelines to follow when disposing of such waste based on our past blog titled “infectious waste disposal“:

How To Properly Dispose Of Contaminated Items

The first thing you should do in the disposal of infectious waste – in this case, COVID-19 plastic waste – is to follow the protocol in disposing of these materials in your area. The general things to remember are:

  • Wear protective equipment
  • Sterilise the contaminated portion of the facility
  • Practise proper disposal

Always remember to wear gloves when you treat infectious waste. You should remove and dispose of them hygienically once you are done with them. Additionally, you should cover your whole body as much as possible. Avoid exposing your wounds if you have one. Properly dress them with bandages.

You should also isolate the area where the infectious waste was originally located. Use effective cleaning substances like bleach, hot water, and detergent. Likewise, you should also dispose of them properly after use in a hygienic and safe way. And, don’t forget to sanitise your hands afterwards!

Proper disposal also includes:

  • Minimising contact with infectious waste as much as possible
  • Discarding them into a suitable bag, container, etc.
  • Using bags with the appropriate colour and symbol – e.g., biohazard infectious waste symbol
  • Transferring the infectious waste safely
  • Making sure not to overfill the suitable waste bag/container
  • Adhering to local clinical waste disposal policy


COVID-19 Plastic Waste: Conclusion

The global pandemic did not reduce pollution. In fact, plastic waste has become more rampant during the coronavirus lockdown. This is due to people fearing that using reusable bags will amplify the spread of the virus. Additionally, this also includes improperly disposed of coronavirus protective gear waste.

But, a recent study suggested that the coronavirus latches on to plastics longer. So, we must avoid plastic in this global pandemic.

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Waster: Things You Need To Know

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