LOS ANGELES — New research shows that the pandemic has made the world’s plastic pollution situation worse, in part due to disposable facemasks and shields, as well as relying on single-use plastics to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Science Direct estimates that on a global level, approximately 3.4 billion single-use facemasks or face shields are discarded daily as a result of the pandemic. Their data also shows that COVID-19 will reverse the momentum of a years-long global battle to reduce plastic waste pollution.
What You Need To Know
- New research shows that the pandemic has made the world’s plastic pollution situation worse
- Science Direct estimates that on a global level, approximately 3.4 billion single-use facemasks or face shields are discarded daily as a result of the pandemic
- A new food concept, Très Bien Organics, is offering ecofriendly takeout containers to cut down on plastic
- According to a study by Elsevier Public Health, the demand on plastic packaging is only expected to increase by 40%
This is why Richard Polak, owner of Très Bien Organics, has been serving his raw, organic food in a unique, environmentally-friendly way.
“If you are going to make organic, raw food and put it in plastic, it kind of defeated the purpose,” he said.
Polak hopes to be on the forefront of the anti-plastic, single-use movement at his new takeout and delivery food concept, Très Bien Organics. It’s brand new and just a small operation at the moment, but he wants to do his part to help save the planet.
"If we don’t take action, we will all go away," he said. "I have kids and will have grandkids, and I want to leave them with the Earth, at least try to, that is better than when I came into it."
This is why he uses sugar cane compostable containers. The takeout packages are made from biodegradable sugar cane that look and act like plastic, but aren’t. You can put them into recycling or green yard waste trash cans to be composted. Polak jokes, “You can even eat this if you are still hungry after eating our meal.”
The paper bags and napkins are made from paper, while the forks are bamboo. All can be composted and recycled. This comes as the pandemic has set back the progress in reducing single-use plastic. For example, Starbucks halted an initiative that allows customers to bring their own cups and many restaurants relied on containers and utensils for the rise in delivery orders.
"I see plastic in the store shelves all the time," said Polak. "I’m like, 'Why would they do that when this is available?'"
According to a study by Elsevier Public Health, the demand on plastic packaging is expected to increase by 40%. This all stemming from safety concerns while shopping in stores. Consumers were buying products in plastic containers and relying on single-use plastic bags to reduce COVID contamination. The study continues to state that plastic industry lobbyists have been pushing the narrative that reusable containers and bags will spread COVID.
Polak noted, however, that if safety is a concern, sugar cane products are single-use but won’t pollute the planet. They are a little more expensive but convenient replacements that he hopes more companies start using.
“Maybe it’s five cents more for this than it would be for plastic. I know when you add that up times 1,000 it starts to cost money, but it’s more important,” he said.
Polak added that it's important because according to Elsevier Public Health, plastics have become a threat to our ecosystems and our health, with studies predicting a twofold increase in the number of plastic debris by 2030. The study goes on to say that these predictions will likely only get worse due to the excessive use and consumption of single-use during the pandemic.