Throughout Brazil, recycling plants have been shut down for several months. In Uganda, junkyards lack reusable plastic. And in the Indonesian capital, disposable gloves and face shields are piled up at the estuary.
The exponential consumption of plastics and packaging during the pandemic has produced large amounts of waste. However, fears of Covid-19 led to a shutdown at the recycling facility, and instead some reusable material was junk or incinerated.
At the same time, large amounts of personal protective equipment are misclassified as dangerous goods, says solid waste experts. Most of the material is thrown away as incinerators or trash, as the material often cannot be placed in regular trash cans.
According to experts, the problem in both cases is that the early fear that the coronavirus could easily spread to the surface created an unwavering stigma for completely safe garbage handling. Since then, many scientists and government agencies have noticed that the risk of surface infections has been severely exaggerated. But old habits die hard, especially in countries where waste treatment guidelines have not been updated and authorities are still obsessed with fighting new outbreaks.
“Because there is no recycling route, for example, people are finding what is being burned rather than scared to be recycled,” said Anne Woolridge, head of the International Medical Waste Working Group. Stated. Solid Waste Association. “You are trying to educate the world’s population in less than a year. That is impossible.”
When it comes to personal protective equipment, the sight of gloves and masks scattered around the world would have been unthinkable before the pandemic, Dr. Woolridge said. “But it puts pressure on the system because it’s medical waste that everyone says has something to do with a pandemic,” she added.
Demand from manufacturers has fallen, and last year the recycling rate dropped significantly around the world. In many countries where the recycling industry is still driven by manual sorting rather than mechanical sorting, face-to-face work has been interrupted due to virus-related concerns.
In Brazil, for example, according to Abrelpe, a national association of hygiene companies, the production of recyclable materials in cities increased by 25% in 2020, mainly due to the surge in online shopping. However, recycling programs in some cities have been shut down for months anyway because of the risk of surface infections.
It had obvious human and environmental costs. According to a recent study, during the suspension period, there is at least 16,000 tonnes of recyclable material circulating, which is equivalent to an economic loss of about $ 1.2 million per month for a group of waste disposal companies. According to another study, the one-month outage missed the opportunity to save on the electricity used by more than 152,000 households.
“The outage highlighted the weaknesses of our system,” said Liane Nakada, co-author of the second treatise and researcher at Campinas University. She and her husband kept it at home for several months to prevent improper disposal of recycling, with the exception.
James D. Michelsen, a solid waste expert at the International Finance Corporation, said recycling rates are now returning to pre-Covid levels in developed countries.
“The numbers are returning to normal, and we’re shifting our focus from Covid’s discussion to one of’OK, circulation, sustainability, and plastic recycling,'” says Michelsen.
But in countries where recycling is being promoted by informal collectors, blockades and outbreaks are still causing great turmoil, he added.
Hundreds of people gathered to pick up plastic at a city dump before the recent Covid outbreak hit Kampala, Uganda. He then sold the plastic to an intermediary, who later sold it to a recycling company.
However, when the country was blocked this summer, trucks were unable to pick up trash in some areas due to movement restrictions. There was also a risk of surface infection. Officials said Covid was skyrocketing because people weren’t washing their hands.
As of this month, there were only about one-third of the average garbage pickers in the garbage dump in Kampala, according to local picker group representative Luke Mugerwa. Some manufacturers who came to look for the recovered plastic were out of luck.
“Every day, they are always looking for plastic to buy,” said Mugerwa. “There is demand, but supply is very low.”
Another challenge is second-hand personal protective equipment that has flooded the world since the early days of the pandemic. Approximately 8 million tonnes of plastic are already flowing into the ocean each year, and experts fear that used PPE and other debris could exacerbate the situation.
Most PPEs are not dangerous, but many countries still classify them that way, said Michelsen of the International Finance Corporation. This means that used gloves and masks are often bundled together with truly dangerous medical waste and disposed of at great expense (waste of money) or by other means.
Understand Vaccine and Mask Obligations in the United States
- Vaccine rules.. On August 23, the Food and Drug Administration granted full approval of Pfizer BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for people over the age of 16 paving the way for increased obligations in both the public and private sectors. rice field. Private companies are increasingly requiring employees to vaccinate. Such obligations are legally permitted and are upheld in court opposition.
- Mask rule.. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in July masks indoor public places in areas where outbreaks are occurring, which is the opposite of the guidance provided in May by all Americans, regardless of vaccination status. It was recommended to wear. Find out where the CDC guidance applies and where the state has developed its own mask policy. In some states, the mask dispute is controversial, and some local leaders oppose the state’s ban.
- University. More than 400 universities require students to be vaccinated with Covid-19. Almost all are in the states that voted for President Biden.
- school.. Both California and New York City have introduced vaccine obligations to their education staff. According to a survey released in August, many American parents with school-age children oppose the vaccines required for their students, but mask obligations for students, teachers, and staff who do not have shots. Was in favor of.
- Hospitals and medical centers.. Many hospitals and major healthcare systems require employees to be vaccinated with the Covid-19 vaccine. This is due to the increased number of cases caused by the Delta variant and the low stubborn vaccination rate in the community, even within employees.
- New York City.. Indoor meals, gymnasiums, performances and other indoor situations require proof of vaccination for workers and customers, but enforcement will not begin until September 13. Teachers and other educational workers in the city’s vast school system must be vaccinated with at least one vaccine. Administered by September 27, without weekly test options. Municipal hospital workers also need to be vaccinated or have weekly tests. Employees in New York have similar rules.
- At the federal level. The Pentagon has announced that it will mandate coronavirus vaccination of 1.3 million active troops in the country by mid-September. President Biden has announced that all private federal personnel must be vaccinated against the coronavirus or subject to regular inspections, social distances, mask requirements, and most travel restrictions.
“If a large number of hospitals come out from behind the hospitals in these areas without infrastructure, they just set up …