Single-use masks, gloves, and bottles of sanitiser litter the streets, the seas, as well as parks and other public areas. Whilst these products are essential in fighting the current Coronavirus pandemic crisis, experts are already warning that their disposal will have a negative impact on the environment and on the reduction of plastic pollution – the other epidemic being faced and fought.
The urgent need for a reduction of single-use plastic has been at the forefront of many Social Media campaigns, and famous influencers have successfully used their voices to spread the message and educate the general public on the harmful effect these have on our planet and wildlife. The result: extreme decline in the use of single-use plastic such as straws, with many people having forgone their use for years. Until now where these same influencers have had to pause their sustainability practices during these times of crisis.
American environmentalist Lauren Signer who has not sent an item of rubbish to a landfill in eight years wrote in her emotional post: “I sacrificed my values and bought items in plastic. (…) I decided to take precaution and stock up on items that I may need if contained to my home. Many of those items, when purchased in the quantities I selected, only came packaged in plastic. In putting my safety first, I went against my environmental values, and created waste”.
The European Commission spokesperson for Environmental Matters, Vivian Loonela, said recently that it is too early to assess the impact of the Coronavirus on the overall amount of plastic packaging waste generated in 2020; however, the social changes are obvious already at this point.
This new reality has resulted not only in the intensified use of masks and gloves. There is also an increasing number of voices encouraging consumers to use plastic bags instead of reusable ones. Alleviating bans in this respect, even temporarily, may have long-term consequences. The process of breaking old habits and adopting new ones may prove pointless when people return now to their previous behaviour.
People are currently confused by the new reality – unable to be certain of the impact of specific materials on our health care. Different sources rush to provide conflicting advice. There are also some values in opposition to one another now. For example, to support local restaurants and take-out businesses by ordering take-away meals, we generate more waste from plastic packaging. Making it impossible to support the consideration of both matters.
Do we really need to sacrifice our environmental agenda for the sake of our personal health and safety during these times? Unfortunately, for the foreseeable future, the answer is yes. This makes the need for sustainability solutions that can tackle the plastic waste epidemic in the post-Coronavirus future even more vital.
Clariter’s philosophy not only addresses the problems resulting from the current crisis, but notably provides future-oriented solutions. Previously encountered obstacles concerning recycling do not concern Clariter’s technology. Its approach treats plastic waste as no longer a problem, but rather a valuable resource. A key advantage of the Clariter technology is that it can accept more than 60% of plastic waste streams, even those with the lowest value and use it in a single feeding stream. This means that there is no need to sort plastic waste by colour or origin categories, which implies a major convenience at a time when plastic waste is globally increasing.
Clariter’s unique chemical upcycling technology ends the life of plastic transforming it into three new industrial goods such as oils, waxes and solvents. These pure, fossil-fuel alternative products are then used as ingredients to make over 1000 clean, valuable everyday consumer products. Because, if not now – when to deploy resource-efficient solutions?
This is an opinion article written by Clariter. Inspired by: Deutsche Welle