Volume : 8, Issue : 1, JAN 2022




Plastics have become a severe transboundary threat to natural ecosystems and human health, with studies predicting a two fold increase in the number of plastic debris (including micro and nano-sized plastics) by 2030. However, such predictions will likely be aggravated by the excessive use and consumption of single-use plastics (including personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves) due to COVID-19 pandemic. This review aimed to provide a comprehensive overview on the effects of COVID-19 on macro plastic pollution and its potential implications on the environment and human health considering short term and long term scenarios; addressing the main challenges & discussing potential strategies to overcome them. It emphasises that future measures, involved in an emergent health crisis or not, should reflect a balance between public health and environmental safety as they are both undoubtedly connected. Although the use and consumption of plastics significantly improved our quality of life, it is crucial to shift towards sustainable alternatives, such as bio-based plastics. Plastics should remain in the top of the political agenda in the world, not only to minimize plastic leakage and pollution, but to promote sustainable growth and to stimulate both green and blue- economies. Discussions on this topic, particularly considering the excessive use of plastic, should start soon with the involvement of the scientific community, plastic producers and politicians in order to be prepared for the near future. Coronavirus lockdowns around the globe have led to a dramatic 5% drop in greenhouse gas emissions, according to UNCTAD estimates, but not all measures to contain the pandemic have had a positive impact on the environment. Our streets, beaches and ocean have been hit by a tidal wave of COVID-19 waste including plastic face masks, gloves, hand sanitizer bottles and food packaging.



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