Earthwatch researchers present new paper on single-use plastic usage during the Covid-19 pandemic - Earthwatch

Earthwatch researchers present new paper on single-use plastic usage during the Covid-19 pandemic

 Earthwatch researchers have led on the publication of a new paper entitled Drivers of public plastic (mis)use New insights from changes in single-use plastic usage during the Covid-19 pandemic

The study was based on the analysis of data from Earthwatch’s Plastics Footprint calculator, funded by SC Johnson, which is still live and accumulating data. It builds on a piece of research into the top 10 plastic pollutants in European rivers. 

The coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) has influenced resource use and how people interact with their environment, with changing priorities and competing public health factors affecting pro-environmental behaviours at individual, societal, business and political levels. 

The results of this study are important as they show that on-the-go plastic consumption actually increased during the lockdowns. This was particularly evident in the use of plastic bottles, food wrappers and takeaway containers. Three times more bottles were used, food wrapper consumption almost doubled, and takeaway container use more than doubled.

The findings suggest that people found it harder to avoid single-use plastic during the lockdown, probably due to perceptions of hygiene benefits and lack of safe”alternatives.  

The results also indicate that government-led guidance can effectively support consumer choices for reduced plastic use, making it clear that there are good opportunities to encourage use of reusables, increase provision of alternatives and dispel hygiene myths.

Read the paper in Science of The Total Environment.

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