The European association of plastic producers PlasticsEurope, assured that world plastic production fell by 0.3 percent in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The event has been recorded only three times since World War II.
The figure is encouraging, but it is still worrying. According to Eric Quenet, director of the European association of plastic producers PlasticsEurope, the planet produced “367 million tonnes of plastic in 2020, compared to 368 million tonnes in 2019.”
The other two setbacks in plastic production worldwide were in 1973, with the oil crisis, and in 2008, with the subprime mortgage crisis.
During the current health crisis, Quenet assures that “there has been much talk of an increase in the consumption of medical plastic”, and it is evident, with the increase in the use of plastic gloves and masks, as well as masks. Much of this waste has reached the sea, “but medical plastic only represents 1.5 to 2 percent of total plastic volumes,” says the director of PlasticsEurope.
In the wake of the Covid-19 health crisis, Europe had a 5.1 percent decline in global plastic production. In 2020, the Old Continent manufactured 55 million tons of new plastics.
In North America, the volume of plastic increased in a decade (70 million tons in 2020 compared to 53 million tons in 2010), but the percentage of world production remained at 19 percent in 2020 (in 2010 was 20 percent).
If we go to China, plastic production increased 1 percent in 2020, according to the association. And in Latin America, the figures barely varied from 5 percent in 2010 to 4 percent in 2020.
For Marco Lambertini, CEO of WWF-International, “plastic is not inherently harmful. It is a man-made invention that has generated significant benefits for society. Unfortunately, the way that industries and governments have dealt with plastic and the way that society has turned it into a single-use disposable convenience has turned this innovation into a global environmental disaster. “
When plastic makes you uncomfortable
For many, the streets of their town or city become a garbage dump because it is more important to them to quickly dispose of plastic waste than to save it until they find a trash can.
This simple action is just one example of what should not be done in the place where you live, or where you live with other people. And when it comes to the planet we share, the problem takes on another magnitude, when the large industries that produce plastic objects become that great monster that manufactures and sells, for us to consume and throw away. But this time, it is not the street that is the garbage dump, but the seas and oceans.
According to a study published in the journal Nature Sustainability, on average, 80 percent of the objects found in the seas are made of plastic, especially bags, bottles, food containers, cutlery and wrappers: “the highest proportion of plastic is in the surface waters, followed by coasts, while river beds show the lowest percentage of these objects ”, says the article.
In another study led by scientists from the University of Cádiz (UCA), in Spain, they assure that, of 11 countries analyzed in Europe, Turkey (the Eurasian nation) is the largest emitter of garbage to the sea, followed by Italy, the United Kingdom, and Spain and Greece.
“Our results show that the countries that supposedly have the best waste management strategies are not capable of preventing plastics from reaching their waterways and seas”, says Daniel González from the UCA.
And if the plastic in the sea worries ecologists and environmental activists, so must the scrap business. Since China gave up importing waste generated abroad in 2018, Romania and Bulgaria have become, along with Turkey, the landfills for waste generated in the rich countries of the European Union (EU).
“Waste traffickers have found in Eastern Europe a market for Western European garbage,” said Commissioner Cristian Coje, of the Romanian Environmental Guard, quoted by EFE.
From washing machines, televisions, to mobile phones and plastic car parts that come from companies are burned in the open air and this ends up polluting the skies of Eastern Europe. The business is profitable for these nations, since the traffickers who transport the garbage offer to get rid of it for less money than they would pay to deposit it in recycling plants in their countries.
With EFE, Reuters and local media