Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Plastic waste release caused by COVID-19 and its fate in the global ocean - PNAS

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Plastic waste release caused by COVID-19 and its fate in the global ocean - PNAS

    November 23, 2021

    History:
    • Accepted September 29, 2021
    • Published in issue November 23, 2021.
    • Published online November 8, 2021.
    https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2111530118

    Yiming Peng, Peipei Wu, Amina T. Schartup, and Yanxu Zhang

    Significance
    Plastic waste causes harm to marine life and has become a major global environmental concern. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increased demand for single-use plastic, intensifying pressure on this already out-of-control problem. This work shows that more than eight million tons of pandemic-associated plastic waste have been generated globally, with more than 25,000 tons entering the global ocean. Most of the plastic is from medical waste generated by hospitals that dwarfs the contribution from personal protection equipment and online-shopping package material. This poses a long-lasting problem for the ocean environment and is mainly accumulated on beaches and coastal sediments. We call for better medical waste management in pandemic epicenters, especially in developing countries.

    Abstract

    The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increased demand for single-use plastics that intensifies pressure on an already out-of-control global plastic waste problem. While it is suspected to be large, the magnitude and fate of this pandemic-associated mismanaged plastic waste are unknown. Here, we use our MITgcm ocean plastic model to quantify the impact of the pandemic on plastic discharge. We show that 8.4 ± 1.4 million tons of pandemic-associated plastic waste have been generated from 193 countries as of August 23, 2021, with 25.9 ± 3.8 thousand tons released into the global ocean representing 1.5 ± 0.2% of the global total riverine plastic discharge. The model projects that the spatial distribution of the discharge changes rapidly in the global ocean within 3 y, with a significant portion of plastic debris landing on the beach and seabed later and a circumpolar plastic accumulation zone will be formed in the Arctic. We find hospital waste represents the bulk of the global discharge (73%), and most of the global discharge is from Asia (72%), which calls for better management of medical waste in developing countries.

    https://www.pnas.org/content/118/47/e2111530118

  • #2
    bump this

    Comment

    Working...
    X