More single-use plastic please

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

Have you noticed how an urge to abolish single-use plastic has turned into a plea for more of it?  This single use plastic is "good use plastic", of course, as opposed to bad use plastic, because it's PPE – personal protective equipment [ gloves, visors, aprons and masks ] that has to be discarded after every patient contact because it might be covered with the virus.  I read that between February 25 and April 18, more than a billion items of PPE were delivered to users in the health and care sector in the UK.  All of it comes from the vilified petrochemical industry.

I wondered when I would read my first article about all this usage (and waste).  It was last weekend when the Sunday Times said that official guidance to medical users is that infectious PPE must go into clinical infectious waste streams, usually for incineration.  It can also be autoclaved (high temperature and pressure scalding) and then shredded and sent to landfill.  We can, therefore, be reassured that it won't end up on your local beach or in a passing whale.  If you're the general public, well, these strictures don't apply to you, and you can just throw it on the ground if you're so minded – as I noted last week.

Ironically enough, the use of bags for life to carry shopping is suddenly hazardous as the virus can cling to them.  Heaping irony on irony, the supermarkets are giving click 'n' collect and drop-off customers free bags for life with their on-line shopping; government ministers gave special permissions so as to avoid too much handling of purchases).  You still have to pay for the thinner single-use ones in the stores.

The point of all this is to hope that in future all plastic usage won't be demonised in schools in the unthinking way it sometimes is.  Some of it apparently is necessary to saves lives.  Who'd have thought it.

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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  • I have been watching a series called Abstract on Netflix, it is fascinating in itself. But Neri Oxman who works with Bioplastics and plant-based plastics is particularly relevant here. I am sure there are lots of complexities to consider in terms of land usage and so forth but I would like to see how this alternative develops.