Is the plastics industry exploiting fears about Covid-19? A new report by Greenpeace USA suggests it is.
The campaign group claim the industry is using 'older industry-funded studies' to suggest 'reusables are somehow more dangerous than other options'. It comes as new research from the National Institutes of Health and Princeton University suggests COVID-19 can live on plastic surfaces longer than others - for as long as two to three days. Greenpeace is angry the US Plastics Industry Association has sent a letter to the US Department of Health and Human Services urging them to “make a public statement on the health and safety benefits seen in single-use plastics” to help respond to the crisis. Greenpeace USA Plastics Research Specialist Ivy Schlegel. said: “At a time when people need factual medical research to inform their decisions around protecting their families, the plastics industry has worked to exploit our fears for profits. “For years, the plastics industry has pushed industry-funded research to try to discredit the movement to end single-use plastic pollution.
"When COVID-19 began to spread, they saw it as an opportunity to strike and activate their network of pro-plastic surrogates. "Now more than ever, we need independent guidance from medical professionals to inform our decisions around hygiene and shopping. People’s safety should come before profits.” Greenpeace USA Oceans Campaign Director John Hocevar said: “Industry groups have seen this crisis as an opportunity to exploit people’s fears around COVID-19 to push their pro-pollution agendas. "Even in the short term, plastic does not inherently make something clean and safe, and we should not confuse corporate public relations with factual medical research. "A new study in The New England Journal of Medicine has indicated that the virus could be stable on plastic surfaces for as long as two to three days. “The truth is that we don’t have all of the answers to this COVID-19 emergency yet, and for industry to use this as an opportunity to increase profits for the fossil fuel and plastics sectors is dangerous and irresponsible. "What we do know is that there is no substitute for strict hygiene. Just because a material is made from single-use plastic does not make it less likely to transmit viral infections during use; in fact, plastic surfaces appear to allow coronaviruses to remain infectious for particularly long periods compared to other materials. "As we all continue to practice social distancing in our own homes, our ability to shift away from disposables only becomes more clear. This should be a time for growth and progress, not fearmongering to keep the status quo alive."