EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – A new study has found some 8 million tons of pandemic-related plastic waste is quickly polluting the oceans worldwide and posing a danger to marine life.
The study, from the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), found the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the demand and use for single-use plastic and is adding to an already ‘exasperated’ environmental issue.
According to the study, the waste has been created by 193 countries, and 26,000 tons of that waste is already in the world’s oceans and further polluting beaches.
The study researchers said animals are getting caught in the plastics and even ingesting it, leading to injury and death.
Some people we talked to said they are aware of the pollution that may be caused by the masks and COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), like gloves.
John Zapata said he feels people need to do a better job.
“I honestly don’t like trash, especially when I’m out fishing at Ascarate. It bothers me, I just don’t like seeing a trashy city. It’s better looking for the city and the environment and for future generations, so we’re not trashing Mother Earth.”
Others, like Arielle Hen, said they saw the biggest waste during the mask mandates.
“If I do see it, I try to pick it up if I have a napkin or something. I do feel bad, I’m very conscious of the environment. I am a vegetarian, so stuff like that does kind of bother me. I feel like I haven’t seen them as much since mask mandates stopped. But before I did see a lot in the beginning of COVID — they were everywhere.
According to the study, Asia is responsible for 72% of global plastic waste.