A new study reports that 25,900 tons of plastic waste from the pandemic made its way into the ocean.
The long-term impact of this activity is yet unknown.
As a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, 193 countries have generated eight million tons of waste, according to a report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published on Monday.
25900 tons of these wastes were described in this discovery as “pandemic-associated plastic waste” that washed ashore on beaches and ocean floors.
“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,” Yimin Peng, Peipei Wu, Amina T. Schartup, and Yanxu Zhang authored in the research paper totled “Magnitude and impact of pandemic-associated plastic waste,” published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
This new discovery was made by researchers at School of Atmospheric Sciences at Nanjing University in Nanjing, China, and Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego in La Jolla, California,
The researchers stated that hospitals generated approximately 87 percent of the waste.
In their study, they also found that countries are unable to deal with and efficiently process the large amount of plastic waste, as “the bulk of its discharge occurs in Asia (72%).”
Approximately 79% of the pandemic-related plastic waste was found in 10 rivers, the researchers found.
Shatt al Arab, Indus, and Yangtze River are the three rivers that top the list.
“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,” the researchers explain in the abstract.
As stated in the article, plastic is ideal for use in manufacturing personal protective equipment and packaging due to its durability and affordability.
According to the report, these plastics have endanger marine life and may have long-term negative implications for coastal ecosystems and coastal environments.
“While it is suspected to be large, the magnitude and fate of this pandemic-associated mismanaged plastic waste are unknown,” the report explained.
One of the biggest discoveries of 2020 involved the discovery of about 1.56 million face masks in the ocean.