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During the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare workers and social workers are saving millions of lives every day and providing the needy with essentials like food, for survival. All of it could not be possible without the use of SUP - single use plastic. Here, we explain how plastic has turned out to be a blessing in disguise, during this pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a new, different world, where most countries are under lockdown, and people are exercising social distancing to protect themselves from getting infected. Over 75,000 people in India have been infected and over 2,500 people have lost their lives (as on 14 May 2020: Source: MyGov.in). During these strange, uncertain times, healthcare workers and social workers are saving lives and providing the needy with food and water, thereby turning out to be the real-life superheroes we need, at the moment.
Something unexpected that has transpired since the outbreak, is the increasing use of Single Use Plastic (SUP). Almost every item that the healthcare sector needs is made from plastic. The demand for PPE, i.e. Personal Protective Equipment, which are Single Use Plastics, is high. In addition, masks, hazmat overall suits, eyewear, and gloves are made from SUP, whereas IV bags, tubing, ventilators, and disposable syringes are made from medical grade plastics essentially SUP’s. Moreover, even food packaging and packaging of other essential items is impossible, without plastic during the pandemic to rule out the spread of infection. Thus, we can say that plastics have proven its significance in these times, in terms of mitigating the contamination threat, and played a crucial role by supporting the efforts of frontline warriors by being a safety shield between the draconian virus and the frontline warriors.
According to WHO, around 89 million medical masks, 1.6 million goggles, and 76 million gloves will be required every month. AIPMA as an apex body of plastic converting fraternity is aligned to the objective of cleaner environment through effective waste management and circular economy approach rather than blanket bans which undermine the needs of emerging economies like India to address Health security and Food security for its citizens.
Plastic still stands to be the most reliable and cost-effective solution in our fight against COVID - 19. It would be most appropriate for the policymakers to promote manufacturers so that enough personal protective gear can be made, to meet the needs of the healthcare industry. Apart from that, systematic disposal and high-temperature incineration of all protective gear has to be ensured, in order to avoid further contamination. The right recycling and disposal practices will not only prevent further spread, but will also minimize the risk of accompanying environmental pollution.