More than 25,000 tonnes of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other COVID-19-related plastic waste have ended up in the oceans, a new study reveals.
Researchers at Nanjing University’s School of Atmospheric Sciences and the Scripps Institute of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego are leading a new analysis looking at the period from the 2020 pandemic to August 2021, predicting nearly three-quarters of that, about 71 percent, will be shore by year.
According to the study, from the beginning of the epidemic to August 2021, 193 countries in the world generated 8.4 million tons of pandemic-related plastic waste. Most of the plastic associated with COVID-19 comes from medical waste generated by hospitals, which “overshadows” the share of personal protective equipment and packaging from e-commerce giants like Amazon and eBay.
“Plastic waste is damaging marine life and has become a major global environmental problem,” the introduction to the document says. “The recent COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in demand for disposable plastics, which has added to the pressure on this already unmanageable problem.”
The researchers say their work highlights “a long-standing problem in the ocean environment that accumulates primarily on beaches and coastal sediments.”
Masks, face shields, disposable gloves, and surgical aprons are examples of personal protective equipment. Personal protective equipment and all plastic packaging used to store these products, as well as the plastic in the test kits, are considered “COVID-19 compliant plastics”. If not disposed of properly, all of these substances can enter rivers and end up in the world’s oceans.
According to the study, the Shatt al-Arab, Indus and Yangtze rivers, which flow into the Gulf, the Arabian Sea and the East China Sea, account for 73 percent of all plastic emissions. Plastic emissions into Europe’s rivers account for 11% of the total, and other continents account for a modest share.
The researchers compared the number of new cases of coronavirus in rivers and the amount of plastic waste caused by COVID-19 flowing across continents. Asia generates the most waste – 46.3% of the world’s pandemic-related plastic waste, accounting for 31.2% of global COVID-19 cases, after 47.6% in the United States.
According to the authors, this reflects the lower level of pharmaceutical waste management in many developing countries, including India and China, compared to industrialized countries in North America and Europe, where the incidence of infections is high.
According to the study, most of the ocean’s plastic waste settles on shores and bottoms within three or four years. And a smaller portion of them end up in the high seas, where they eventually fall into the trap of the centers of ocean basins or subtropical huge rotating flow systems in each of the five great oceans. According to researchers, the Arctic Ocean is a “dead end” to the plastic waste dumped there. This is due to the cost of orbiting the oceans.
The authors advocate better management of medical waste in epicentres, especially in developing countries, to combat the flow of plastic waste into the oceans. They also demand more publicity about the environmental impact of personal protective equipment and other plastic products, as well as the development of other environmentally friendly materials.
Source: ANI / Novinite
Source: The Nordic Page