Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is now being perceived as one of the biggest disasters of the 21st Century. According to Worldometer, as of May 27, 2020, more than 5,698,421 cases have been reported worldwide. There has been a growing emphasis on sanitation and hand hygiene. Various studies suggest that virus strain spreads through human contact and high touch surfaces. A report by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests that the coronavirus can sustain on cardboard surfaces for a day and plastic surfaces for up to three days. It is a well-known fact that many businesses have been using plastic packaging to promote their products for several years now. Customized and reusable plastic shopping bags have gained popularity over the years, and most customers consider them as an integral element of their environmental consciousness. The coronavirus disease is challenging plastic packaging trends. This post discusses these trends and related news from the plastic packaging industry.
Plastic Packaging: Is it a Boon or a Bane During COVID-19
Plastic packaging – is it good or bad? There have been wide discussions on the topic across the globe. The following pointers will help you understand it better.
- Increasing Demand to Reverse Single-Use Plastic Bans: It is a well-known fact that there has been a nationwide ban on single-use plastic across the US. The Plastic Industry Association (PIA) has been using the studies by NIH and other leading organizations to reverse the plastic bans. In the second week of March, the organization has requested the United States Department of Health and Human Services to allow the use of single-use plastic bags. An article published in the Manhattan’s Institute’s City Journal on March 12 indicated that COVID-19 virus strain can sustain on reusable plastic bags. Following this, many lawmakers have temporarily delayed the bans. New Hampshire, Maine, and New York have temporarily pushed the single-use plastic bag bans until the next year. Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire have issued emergency orders guiding stores to dissuade the use of reusable shopping bags among shoppers and encourage them to use single-use plastic and paper shopping bags. This was being done to prevent the spread of infection.
- Reusable Packaging Schemes Have Been Suspended: Starbucks was perhaps one of the first popular brands to encourage people to bring their reusable coffee mugs and bottles. They were offering certain discounts to people who were carrying their cups with them. With businesses like Splosh and Loop following the suit, the market for reusable plastic packaging was flourishing. However, due to the fear of the virus spread, Starbucks has announced the temporary ban on reusable coffee mugs in the first half of March. The management of Starbucks announced that discount schemes are still intact, but the coffee will be served in a single-use mug.
- FDA Quashes Theory of Contagion Through Reusable Plastic Food Packaging: In the third week of April 2020, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has confirmed that there is no evidence that coronavirus is spread through food packaging and reusable plastic bags. FDA said that users need not wash their reusable food packaging but they must use a mask when going to a food store. However, they must sanitize or clean reusable shopping bags before each use.
The experts from the plastic packaging industry are hopeful that the increasing emphasize on single-use plastic bags is a limited emergency measure and it won’t have any reverse effect on the demand or use of reusable plastic shopping bags. There is another concern among lawmakers that plastic made from fossil fuels and its prices are influenced by oil prices, which has drastically dropped against the backdrop of this pandemic. All this will make recycling difficult, and there are chances that like before plastics would end up in landfills and water bodies. So, this is also the time that people start acting wisely. They need to choose between reusable vs single-use plastic shopping bags – with much caution.