An international team of researchers has published a report on the impact of the pandemic on plastic pollution in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, ScienceDaily reports.
Oceanographers analyzed data from 193 countries and found that with the advent of covid, the amount of plastic waste in the world has grown by 8.4 million tons. At the same time, 25,900 tons of this plastic is already in the ocean - in part because the sharply increased demand for personal protective equipment such as gloves and masks greatly exceeds the possibility of recycling.
This year, for the first time, cases of the influence of covid plastic on the fauna were reported: during the cleaning of a canal in the Dutch city of Leiden, a fish was found that died after falling into a medical glove, and in Brazil they found a dead penguin with a PFF-2 mask in the stomach.
Thousands of tons of masks, gloves, test kits and protective shields have been transported to the oceans along 369 major rivers. Most of all fell on the Iraqi river Shatt al-Arab, whose waters brought 5,200 tons of waste. The Indus had 4,000 tons, the Chinese Yangtze - 3,700 tons. In Europe, most of the plastic was transferred by the Danube - 1,700 tons.
46% of this plastic waste comes from Asia, where people wear masks the most. This is followed by Europe (24%) and North and South America (22%). At the same time, 87.4% of covid plastic is accounted for in hospitals, and only 7.6% for individual use.
By the end of the century, scientists believe, almost all plastics associated with the pandemic will end up either on the seabed (28.8%) or on beaches (70.5%).