What Impact Has The Covid19 Pandemic Had On Our Plastic Pollution ?

It might be thought that lockdown, less use of air, ferry and road transport would have had a very greening effect on our environment. Whilst this is true to some extent as we see wildlife returning to areas it kept well clear of before, we still have huge issues to deal with if we wish to tackle the climate emergency.

The Circular Economy Bill which was going through the Scottish Parliament has been postponed.

Out goes the legislation on The Latte Levy which would have put a 25p charge on single use disposable coffee cups .

Out also went the charge for single use plastic carrier bags in some retail outlets. Not only does this create more of a plastic problem but charities benefited from all those 5p charges at a time when funding is very hard to come by.

Local Scottish Water network maintenance operator Jon Smales fills up his water bottle from the new Top up Tap in Kirkwall.

Scotland has also made some advances, albeit small – plastic cotton buds were banned and many of our towns and communities now have water top ups in place.

Care must also be taken that wide consultation takes place and that essential use of plastic materials is recognised where there is a need. Phil Meyer of Inclusion Scotland points out that in the past policy has failed to take account of people with a disability and how an outright ban, on for example, plastic straws, can have serious consequences for their needs.

Friends of the Earth Scotland covered the issue of Plastics, Petrochemicals and Cornoavirus in a virtual meeting Thursday 21st of May.

Orkney and many Local Authorities are now re-starting their collections of what we can recycle. There was no plan in place in Scotland for storing waste should there be the need to close down services. This meant that some people had to put out what they would normally recycle into their household waste. This highlights how weak Scotland remains in how we deal with waste and how we recycle.

Ineos Grangemouth

Andy Georgi from Food and Water Action Europe states that petro-chemicals will rapidly become the largest driver of global oil production.

He said:

“As long as we have cheap fracked gas then we will have virgin plastic production”

In Scotland, at Grangemouth, we have the largest producer of plastic in the UK – at the Ineos plant. Because there is no fracking in Scotland, it is transported into the Ineos site from Pennsylvania in tankers.

There is a huge problem with nurdles being washed ashore – and not just in the area around Grangemouth but all along our coasts.

Sarah Moyes of Friends of the Earth Scotland states that by 2050 , if we continue at this rate, there will be more plastic in the sea than fish.

Scotland, and countries worldwide, have the opportunity now more than ever before to re-examine the way we live and our use of resources.

If we are to avert the catastrophe of global climate change there can be no return to ‘normal’.

gannet with plastic netting , photo B Bell

Reporter: Fiona Grahame

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