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Fighting plastic pollution during the lockdown

The global COVID-19 crisis is impacting individuals, companies and public services. The priority given to health and safety and respecting hygiene rules requires us all to change our lifestyles and habits during the lockdown period.

But, worryingly, we are seeing that these adaptations are increasingly being translated into actions that may lead, in the short term, to an explosion in the quantity of plastics dumped into our oceans.

Several major trends induced by COVID-19 are emerging

  • A surge in the use of plastic bags, as plastic producers leverage legitimate consumer hygiene fears to fight bans on plastic bags
  • A strong increase in the use of single-use items, such as takeaway food boxes, cups, gloves, etc that are thrown away outdoors after use
  • An increased demand for fruit and vegetables in plastic wrap packaging
  • An explosionof online delivery services and food delivery services that are heavy users of plastic packaging
  • A reduction in recycling rates, as plastic recycling markets face pressure and weaker demand because of a drop in oil prices that makes “virgin” plastic more competitive
  • Potential disruption to waste management services as waste workers are assigned to other priority tasks or go on strike because of the lack of proper gear and exposure to the virus

Despite the challenging circumstances and while respecting hygiene safety rules must remain paramount, we need to make every effort to ensure that plastic waste reduction is given the priority it requires.

Tips and advice

Here are some useful tips and advice on how to continue the fight against ocean plastic pollution during the lockdown.

Continue to sort plastic waste.

If waste management services are reduced in your city, you can store plastic waste in resistant bin bags.

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Use your personal water bottle.

Wash it in the dishwasher on a regular basis and do not lend it to anyone.

Use washing bags to avoid the release of microplastic particles into the water.

They should be used to wash synthetic fibre clothes.

Choose family-sized products.

Refuse overwrapped individual packaging.

Teach your children about the threats of plastic pollution. Use the extra time for some awareness-raising, exciting and fun activities such as these.

masks and gloves correctly.

Keep them in a sturdy bag and throw them in the household waste bin. Do not throw them away outdoors. Do not put them in the recycling bin.

Use your own reusable grocery shopping bag.

You can wash it at 60° after every use.

Put your cigarette butts in street bins

Do not throw them in gutters, as they will end up in rivers and then in the seas.

Cook rather than buy industrial convenient ready meals

Take advantage of the lockdown to cook your own fresh snacks, cakes, desserts, etc.

Download the leaflet ‘COVID-19 and plastic pollution’

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