"One of the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic has been the introduction of a new type of plastic waste in the form of single-use personal protective equipment (PPE).
Now, a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America calculates for the first time how much of that waste is ending up in the oceans and what it is doing once it gets there.
'The Covid-19 pandemic has led to an increased demand for single-use plastics that intensifies pressure on an already out-of-control global plastic waste problem,' study co-authors Yiming Peng and Peipei Wu from Nanjing University told The Guardian. 'The released plastics can be transported over long distances in the ocean, encounter marine wildlife, and potentially lead to injury or even death.'
The Nanjing University and University of California (UC), San Diego-led research team looked at waste generated between the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 and August 2021, according to a UC San Diego press release. All told, the study found that 193 countries have generated more than 8.4 million tonnes (approximately 9.3 million U.S. tons) of COVID-specific plastic waste since the pandemic began, and 25,900 tonnes (approximately 28,550 U.S. tons) of that ended up in the world's oceans."
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