Single-use plastic should not take over due to fears over Covid-19

Single-use plastic should not take over due to fears over Covid-19

THE pandemic should not stop us from reducing the “needless flow of waste” going into our surroundings, an environmental organization has urged.

As supporting local businesses has been reduced to takeaway drinks and food in recent months, single-use packaging has seen a rise as the number of litter louts have also seen a rise.

After a series of photographs of Kelvingrove Park littered with takeaway boxes since Scotland entered phase one of the government’s plans to ease lockdown restrictions, popular pizza restaurant Paesano offered to recycle pizza boxes themselves.

However, the use of reusable items such as reusable cups have seen scepticism amid concerns of transferring Covid-19 through contact.

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In early March, Starbucks announced they were placing a temporary ban on reusable cups amid early Covid-19 concerns.

Iain Gulland, chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland, believes we should not discard progress made in reducing waste.

He said: “While we must evaluate and improve our systems to meet the challenges of the pandemic, this does not mean discarding altogether the great progress we have made in recent years.

“It is great to see businesses, customers and NGOs working together to find new solutions as the climate crisis is not going away.”

He added: “We still need to reduce the needless flow of waste going into the environment. As a society, we need to reduce our level of consumption and make more of the materials we have.

“This would avoid waste and protect our environment, as well as cutting the carbon emissions associated with the manufacture and transport of items.”

Earlier this year, Glasgow City Council approved plans which would see the amount of plastic in the city drastically reduced.

The plastic reduction strategy would see single-use plastic phased out in just two years, and the city would also eliminate all “unnecessary” plastic by 2030.

Glasgow City confirmed that the position to reduce plastic remains unchanged despite challenges faced due to the pandemic.

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A spokesman said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has been an unprecedented challenge in countless ways and has clearly affected how we consume products over the last three months.

“It is understandable if people are relying on single-use, disposable plastics when they have concerns about the transmission of the virus.

“There are anecdotal accounts that may suggest a trend but we are not aware of any hard and fast evidence that says there has been an overall rise in the consumption of single-use plastic in the short term.

“We remain fully committed to our plastics reduction strategy as part of a sustainable recovery from the impact of the pandemic and will continue to progress the actions set-out in the strategy.“

However, the Zero Waste Scotland chief executive argues that there is no evidence that single-use packaging is more hygienic than reusable items.

“Over the last two years, great progress has been made to promote reuse across the food service sector,” he added.

“There has been no evidence submitted to support suggestions that single-use packaging is more hygienic than reusable, so promoting this argument without that evidence is unhelpful and will undermine the now widely accepted need to curb single-use items.”

It has been proposed that reusable cups can be used without risk for transmission by ensuring they are not touched by baristas.

A customer would place clean reusable cups on a tray before stepping away allowing the barista to pour the coffee into the reusable cup without touching it.

The barista would make the coffee in the regular crockery and thereby ensure no single-use plastic as well as no cross-contamination was used in the process.

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