COVID-19 Waste in Our Oceans

What do the locals think of the "Latest" ocean pollution?

I was reading an article recently that talked about a side effect of the coronavirus pandemic, that I never really thought about. Seems we have created a new type of ocean plastic called “Covid Waste”.  

With this extra pollution ending up in the ocean, I started to wonder what the fish and marine animals are thinking, when they see another bit of plastic waste appearing in their home. Then (strangely you may say), what if the existing plastic pollution could talk, what would they be saying about these “new kids on the block”? I know, plastic does not think or talk, it just becomes what we make it and stays where we put it.

thank you Gille Louatron (#artdechet) for a great photo.

This Covid Waste has been found right around the entire world, washed up on the beaches of uninhabited islands in the middle of nowhere, seen floating like jellyfish in the water, caught up in reef systems, and generally spread across seabeds.

When I look around I see this new waste in my local environment, blowing in the street and even in my back pocket. I think we all a bit guilty of buying single-use plastic items without giving much thought to how long they will remain in the environment or where they will end up.

France has ordered two billion disposable masks and worldwide the industry is worth over US$20 billion. Just imagine how many masks are being produced and disposed of in the entire world, all destined to become Covid Waste.  

To be honest, I thought these disposable masks were made from some kind of paper, but I have learned they are made from polypropylene, which is a plastic derived from oil. These masks are expected to remain in the natural environment for up to 450 years, so will be a part of our environment long after the pandemic has been forgotten. 

What can we do to reduce COVID-19 waste?

Well, we have to follow the rules set by our governments and do what we can to protect those we love and the community in general. While we do this we should always keep in mind the following:

Consider, do you need to be wearing a surgical grade disposable mask, or will a good quality reusable mask do the job. Every time you put on a disposable mask you are creating garbage.

Only wear gloves if you have to, and consider just washing your hands more frequently as an alternative to continual sanitizing.

If you have to use hand sanitizer, consider refilling your bottle rather than buying another new one.

Whenever you buy a product related to Covid protection, please consider carefully how you will dispose of it, as it will become Covid Waste. 

Food for Thought

So many events have an impact upon our Oceans, even the side effects of a pandemic. Let’s all be more conscious of our purchases and consider their end-of-life outcome before we decide to buy.

We at loop2cycle are all about repurposing plastic waste and diverting it from becoming ocean pollution – especially in developing nations and remote communities. We provide people with the tools they need to turn no-value waste plastic into valuable consumer products.

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Adrian is a co-founder of loop2cycle. Following a successful career building and managing numerous businesses in the past, he is now dedicated to the reduction of plastic waste and improving the environment in remote communities.

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