All of the defining images of the coronavirus pandemic seem to feature one thing: plastic.
Surgical masks, gloves, protective equipment, body bags — the Covid-19 crisis has spurred a rapid expansion in the production of desperately-needed plastic products, with governments racing to boost their stockpiles and regular citizens clamoring for their share of supplies.
Such production is necessary. But all that plastic ends up somewhere — and environmental campaigners fear it is just the tip of a looming iceberg, with the pandemic causing a number of serious challenges to their efforts to reduce plastic pollution.
From people discarding plastic gloves and masks in cities across the world to important regulations on the use of plastic being scrapped, rolled back or delayed, the problem has taken a back seat during one of the most significant public health crises of modern times.
The implications of those trends could spell years of trouble for our already polluted oceans.
“We know that plastic pollution is a global problem — it existed before the pandemic,” Nick Mallos of US-based NGO Ocean Conservancy tells CNN. “(But) we’ve seen a lot of industry efforts to roll back some of the great progress that’s been made.
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