How covid-19 spawned a plastic pandemic – and what we can do about it


A discarded face mask in Budva, Montenegro

ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy

It looked as if the tide had turned against single-use plastic last year, with the European Union approving a ban on cutlery, straws and more, New York backing a plastic bag ban and consumer pressure continuing to grow.

Then the coronavirus hit. Hygiene fears and the demand for masks have unleashed a plastic pollution pandemic, while industry lobbyists are pushing to roll back restrictions.

It hasn’t been long enough for there to be official data on plastic waste and recycling rates, but there is no shortage of estimates and anecdotes. Every person in the …



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