The coronavirus has worsened the amount of plastic polluting the world’s oceans.
That’s according to Dave Ford, founder of the environmental literacy organization SoulBuffalo and the Ocean Plastics Leadership Network, a group that brings activists and the industry together to develop solutions to ocean plastic pollution.
There is an “environmental silver lining” as a result of the coronavirus — carbon emissions have been reduced by more than 4%, many wildlife markets around the world have been shuttered and air quality in some places has slightly improved, Ford says.
But thanks to an increase in pandemic-related, non-recyclable materials such as take-out plastic containers and masks, 30% more waste has crept into our oceans, he notes.
“There’s 129 billion facemasks being made every month — enough that you could cover the entire country of Switzerland with facemasks at the end of this year if trends continue,” he says. “And a lot of these masks are ending up in the water.”
The masks look like jellyfish — thus, food — to turtles and other wildlife creatures, he says.
Very little of the plastic we use is actually recyclable. Sharon Lerner of The Intercept told Here & Now last year that “the vast majority of plastic that has ever been produced — 79% — has actually ended up in landfills or scattered around the world or burned, but not refashioned into new products.”
Even if the plastics