While the world faces mortal danger with the Coronavirus 2019 outbreak, the well-being of our home planet does not seem like a priority anymore. Mankind has been too engulfed in the attempts of eradicating the disease that taking care of the environment is almost overlooked, maybe even neglected. Over the course of the pandemic, while humanity was busy wearing masks and physically distancing, and hospitals dealt with the admissions, saving as many lives as they can, the Earth has been suffering as well, not from the direct impact of the virus, but due to the repercussions of the actions being made to fight it.
There was a drastic increase in the demand, usage, and as a result, disposal of single-use medical paraphernalia and other non-medical products such as disposable utensils when the disease was officially declared as a pandemic. The amount of waste being produced during the pandemic continues to rise every day.
People have yet to learn proper solid waste management even though the campaign and spread of its awareness have started several years ago. And during these times, recycling is off the table so the items have to go directly to the garbage disposal. Environmental groups have reported build up of said items in bodies of water. Surfrider, an organization that volunteers in water clean-up, has found COVID waste (antibacterial wipes, gloves, masks).
The use of vinyl gloves is very likely to reach 330 billion pieces before this year ends. More than 300 new plastic manufacturing plants are currently in operation and in process of establishment as of now in the United States alone. Plastic is without question, beneficial and economical. It is a commodity that most people in the world have become accustomed to. But it must also be of equal concern to consumers what this signifies to the welfare of the environment, and should take initiatives to reduce its disposal. Apple has begun production of plastic face shields and is planning to distribute about a million each week. The distribution will expand to China soon.
Plastic does not degrade until at least 450 years. With the amount of disposed waste and plastic-containing items yet to be manufactured and distributed, there is a high possibility that waste build up will be unmanageable by the next few years as the pandemic worsens. If no immediate action will be taken, it will harm the ecosystem even more, and there will be more problems to face even after the COVID-19 catastrophe.