One of the hidden costs of COVID-19 is a dramatic increase in single-use plastics – more plastic bags, more take-out containers, more disposable cutlery, and tons of PPE.
This increase may have temporarily been necessary, but our plastic waste is everywhere and is itself a global health issue. We know it is killing birds and fish, is in our bloodstream, and is even in the arctic ice.
And plastics may be worse than we thought. According to a recent report by the Center for International Environmental Law, (CIEL), plastic production and disposal are a major driver of climate change. Plastics are made from fossil fuels. The extraction, processing, shipping and disposal of plastics annually have emissions equivalent to 200 coal-fired power plants. And plastic production is increasing dramatically. By 2050, those emissions will be equivalent to 600 coal-fired power plants. According to CIEL President, Carroll Muffet, “we need to cut emissions by 45% by 2030 if we hope to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius.”