COVID-19 Impact on Single-Use Plastics in Chemical and Materials Industry

COVID-19 Impact on Single-Use Plastics in Chemical and Materials Industry

  • Chemical and Materials
  • Oct 07, 2020

COVID-19 Impact on Single-Use Plastics in Chemical and Materials Industry

INTRODUCTION

Single-use plastics are the type of plastic which can be used for the single time and cannot be used for further applications. Single use plastics products are made from the petrochemicals and other additives which provide strength to the single-use plastics products which increases the application in the various end-use industries. Single-use plastics products can easily be manufactured as product have small manufacturing process which also results in the less cost of production of the single-use plastics products.

Most of the single-use plastics products are non-biodegradable and some of the single-use plastics products slowly break down into smaller fragments and particles which are known as micro plastics. Several studies suggested that single-use plastics products such as bags and containers which are used in the packaging and carrying applications are made of expanded polystyrene foam which is known as Styrofoam. The materials which are used in the manufacturing of the single-use plastics products can take up to thousands of years for decompose in soil and water.

During the decomposition, the single-use plastics products releases the toxic chemicals in the soil or water which are dangerous for the aquatic life as well as for the ground water level. The single-use plastics products which is most commonly used found in the environment are cigarette butts, plastic drinking bottles, plastic grocery bags, plastic lids, food wrappers, straws and stirrers, plastic bottle caps, other types of single-use plastic bags which are used in shopping and in retail sector and other foam of single-use plastics products are used as take-away containers which are thrown after the single use.

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON SINGLE-USE PLASTICS INDUSTRY 

The pandemic situation which is created by COVID-19 has resulted into the global crisis which is evolving at high speed and scale in all the regions globally. Corona virus has started from the china country and now has reached to every place in the word. No business or industry is immune from the COVID-19 effect. Corona virus has created the pandemic situation in the word which has affected all the large manufacturing sector as well as small manufacturing and service sector.

Some of the businesses also have the positive impact of the COVID-19 as the single-use plastics products. Due to the COVID-19, the demand of the single use plastic has increased in all the regions. The COVID-19 has resurrected single-use plastic products demand in the market due to which manufacturers are able to increase their business. In global aspect, there is no denying that single-use plastic products have resulted in the saving of life for the people who are fighting against COVID-19 especially for frontline health workers and in the societies, due to which the demand for the single use plastic have increases in the pandemic situation. As we all are aware that COVID-19 virus is highly contagious and can spread through the transmission of droplets of infected person that land on objects and surfaces around the another person, due to these circumstances, the use of the single-use plastic products have increases in all the regions.

Beside the ban on the single use plastic in North America, Europe the demand of single use plastic in several other countries has increased. Single-use plastic products cannot be recycled and do not go through the disposable process which have become the worry for the government in the several 

region. As during the COVID-19 the demand for the single use plastic products has increased by 50% in the residential, health care and in packaging of the food and beverages product in the global market which have the positive impact on the demand of the single-use plastics products during COVID-19. Grocery stores have sharply increased the usage of the single-use plastic bags for the packaging and carrying of the goods for the home delivery. The usages of the single use plastic products have increased in the medical and hygiene products which have resulted in the increment in the demand for the single use plastic products.

During the COVID-19 there is an exponential increase in the e-commerce due to which the demand of the single use packaging products for the essential goods and also for the food and beverage products has increased globally various applications to stop the spread of the corona virus to some extent. In the developing countries the demand for the single- use plastic bags has been increased as plastic bags are being used in the distribution of the food during the lock down as donation of food drives and food distribution have made infinitely easier and cheaper with the single-use plastic bags. With the increment in the use of the single-use plastic bags or products during the COVID-19, the several manufacturers have also invested in the business to increase the production of the single-use plastic products. The demand of the single use plastic products was more from the medical sector such as the demand for the face masks, PT kit, gloves and other hygiene products have increased which have created the positive impact on the single use plastic during the COVID-19 situation. E-commerce activities have increased in the COVID-19 situation as people are not allowed to move out due to the regulations by the government. The demand of the essential goods during the COVID-19 has increased which has resulted in the more e-commerce activities in the developing countries. Several grocery dealers have also entered into the home delivery services of the goods which have increased the demand of the single-use plastics products for packaging of the goods and to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The challenge have been raised during the COVID-19 for the manufactures as the single use plastic products were banned in the various countries by the higher authorities or government, but during the COVID-19 the rules were not applied properly which have increases the use of the single-use plastic product to stop the spread of the corona virus. The single-use plastics waste generation from the households, medical has increased but due to the lock down in the countries the decomposition of the waste of the single use plastic cannot be done properly which is a draw back for the single use plastics.

For instance

  • In May 2020, PIE – Plastics Information Europe has done a survey on business performance to know about the business trends in the European plastics industry during the coronavirus pandemic.

Among the plastics companies detailing lower deals compared to April 2019, the smallest enterprises show up harder hit, with nearly 60% saying deals fell at slightest 20%, compared to around 45% of mid- to large-sized firms. By region, respondents within the Nordic nation were outstanding since nearly half detailed higher deals compared to April final year. A 72% share of plastics processors are managing with falling sales. Processors with business within the packaging sector fared better fared way better, with around 40% detailing expanded sales, More than half of study members report that the Covid-19 widespread is positively influencing the public image of plastics, whereas about 40% say there's no affect. As it were 6% see the picture of plastics getting more awful as a result of the widespread.

IMPACT ON FOOD AND BEVERAGES INDUSTRY

During the COVID-19, the government has issued several rules and regulation due to which business have to suffer a lot. Several manufacturing units of the beverage products have halt of production of the finished goods during lock down period in the in countries. Beside the lockdown in the country, the demand of the essential products has also increased and also the e-commerce facility has also flourished in the developing nation. With the increasing prevalence online food delivery and the grocery products the usage of the single uses plastic products for the packaging has also increased.

The demand of the plastic bottles has also increased in the beverage market. The packaging of the liquid products in different quantities are being done in the single use plastic bottles which are transported in the single-use plastic carries from one place to another. The more use of the single-use plastic products in the food has beverage industry have created the positive impact on the single-use plastics industry. 

IMPACT ON E-COMMERCE INDUSTRY

In the COVID-19, the demand of the daily use finished good have increased due to which the use of the e-commerce platform have increased in all the regions. During the pandemic situation the users on the e-commerce platform have increased by the 60%. The good which we receive through the online delivery have the several layers of the single use plastic to protect the good from the damage during the transit. With the increase in the online food delivery and other essential goods, the use of the single-use plastic for the packaging purpose has also increased. People majorly prefer the home delivery of the goods as it is safe for the people and now a days, people prefer less to go malls to fulfill the requirement of the daily use items, rather they shop online due to which the demand for the single-use plastic in the packaging products and films have increased during the COVID-19 situations.

For Instance,

  • In the U.S., the retailers have gone on online which have resulted in year-over-year (YoY) revenue growth which is up to 68% as of mid-April which is surpassing an earlier peak of 49% in early January 2020.
  • There is growth of 129% in year-over-year in the U.S. & Canadian e-commerce orders has been recorded as of April 21, 2020 and also an impressive 146% growth in all online retail orders during the COVID-19 situation.
  • Online conversion rates increased by 8.8% in February, reflecting a level of shopping urgency typically seen during Cyber Mondays, according to Quantum Metric.
  • The growth in the house hold market such as handcrafted items has also increased which include masks and home furnishings which have exploded during the pandemic, with sales spiking 146% due to which the single-use plastic usage had been increased for the packaging of the goods.

IMPACT ON MEDICAL HYGIENE PRODUCTS INDUSTRY

The pandemic situation which is created by the COVID-19 has created the positive impact on the demand of the medical hygiene products. Several hygiene products are made with the use of the single-use plastic such as face masks, PE kit, gloves and face shield and other many products which were high in the demand during the COVID-19 period as in the hospitals the demand for the mask and sanitizers have increased by 90% in all the regions.

The medical hygiene products are made from the single-use plastic which means the product are waste after the single use and cannot be used again. The manufacturing of the gloves and full cover body sheet are manufactured on the larger extend by the manufactures in different countries which have also increased the demand for the single-use plastics in the medical industry. The COVID-19 has created the situation of fear among all the age groups and the demand of the medical products and hygiene products have been increased in all age groups. The demands for the sanitizers which are packed in the single-use plastic bottles have been increased on a very high pace due to which the demands of the single-use plastics products have increased in the medical industries. In future, with innovation of the vaccine for the corona virus the demand for the single-use plastic for the manufacturing of syringe will be increased by 80%. The demand of the face mask was near to RS 6,000 crore in starting of the year 2019 which may have increase to the RS 12, 00,000 crore during the 2020 in all the regions which is near to 20,000% of total increment.

  FIGURE 1    DEMAND OF THE FACE MASK IN EUROPE DURING THE MONTH OF FEBRUARY 2020 (MILLION UNITS) covid-19 impact on single-use plastics in chemical and materials industry

Source: European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences

From the above figure we can infer that the demand of the surgical mask or the face mask have shoot up during the month of February as the daily production of the face mask was the 180 million units but the demand was 900 million units on the daily basis. To fulfil the increasing demand of the facemask in the region several manufactures have increased the production of the face mask which lead to the increase in the demand of the single-use plastics in the production of the mask.

  FIGURE 2    DEMAND OF THE HAND CLEANERS IN THE U.S. (DECEMBER 2019 – JANUARY 2020) 

covid-19 impact on single-use plastics in chemical and materials industry

Source: The NPD Group

The above graph estimates the weekly sales of hand cleaner products that is hand sanitizers and hand wipes in the U.S. which had normal sales rate at the end months of the year 2019, but with the outbreak of global pandemic situations the sale of hand sanitizers grew over a large percentage proving the panic situation among the consumers in order to prevent from being affected from COVID-19 virus. The demand of the hand sanitizers has increased which are packed in the single-use plastics bottles. With increasing demand of the hand sanitizers in the entire region the demand of the single-use plastic bottles have increased in very less time.

DRAWBACKS FOR THE SINGLE-USE PLASTICS MANUFACTURERS DURING COVID-19

COVID-19 has increased the demand for the single use plastic but has also brought the problem of the single-use plastic product for the manufacturers. As the single use plastic products are banned in several countries due to increasing environmental concern and landfills in the area. Due to the COVID-19 the recycling of the single-use plastic have undergo several problems. the recycling of the single use products have not been done properly due to the lock down in the industries which resulted in the production of the sing-use waste in the larger quantity as compare to the previous years. Several recycling plant have been shut down due to the increase in the corona virus cases in the regions due to which the recycling of the single use plastic cannot be done in the proper manner and leads to the increase in the wastage of the single use plastic in the environment which is harm full to the aquatic life in future and government is also engaged in the making of the several policies for the stoppage of the increasing waste of the single use plastic. The main reason for the closure of the recycling plant was just to stop the spread of the COVID-19, as by coming into the contact with the infectious mask, PE kits and gloves for the disposal which can contain the virus can be spread among workers and which will result in spread of the corona virus on higher rate in lower income groups. As in Indonesia almost 63,000 workers were laid off from the recycling industries during the COVID-19 due to which the wastage of the single use plastic in the country have increased and resulted in the increase in landfills. The masks are not disposing off according to the demand in all the regions due to which the 40,000 kg of single-use plastics products are being thrown in the water bodies during the COVID-19 which is dangerous for the aquatic life in future.

For instance,

•          During the COVD-19, the U.K. has resulted into an illegal action for the use single-use plastics waste disposal which has risen by 300% during the pandemic. In some countries, the market players have invested in the advancing innovative methods of recycling and reusing the single-use plastics waste product but due to the COVID-19, they are not able to function properly which has resulted in the growing tons of volume of single-use plastics wastes which is ending up in landfills into the environment.

•          In China, the daily production of face masks reported to 116 million in February which is 12 times higher than the previous month that is July in the year. Hundreds of tons of used masks were being collected daily from public bins and private bins of the homes.

•          In Thailand Environment Institute, the single-use plastics waste has increased from 1,500 tons to 6,300 tons per day which is owing to soaring home deliveries of food in the country. The demand of E-commerce and online food delivery have increased the demand of the single-use plastics in the country.

Companies are not able to dispose off or treat the single-use plastic waste due to the several rules in the industries. Workers are also not able to manage the waste as the single-use plastic waste is hazardous in nature and also have risk of the spread of the coronavirus to the workers in the industries due to which the single-use plastics waste have increased in the countries which is increasing the concern of the government. Government and higher authorities are making the code of conducts for the dispose of the single-use plastic waste during the COVID-19.

CONCLUSION

On concluding with the spread of COVID-19 pandemic around the globe, the situation have hit all the sector of production and almost created a negative impact on all the industries which resulted in the lower demand of the goods, but with the spread of the COVID-19 the demand for the single-use plastic have increased in the food and beverage industry and more over in the medical hygiene products, the demand was maximum in the market. The single-use plastic has been more used in the medical hygiene products such as face mask, PE kit and face shield which has eventually increased its demand in the market. With the increasing food delivery during the COVID-19, the uses of the single-use plastic products for packaging and in grocery have increased and also the demands for the single-use plastics bags have increased. Manufacturers are also facing challenges for the production of the single-use plastic products during the COVID-19 due to the lock down in the countries.

Eventually, manufacturers have faced the problem of the single-use plastics waste disposal as companies were not able to work efficiently and to treat the waste which resulted in the increase in the landfills in the countries. Government is more concern for increasing single-use plastic waste and making several policies for the treatment of the waste with the motive to overcome the challenge of the single-use waste for manufacturers which will boost the single-use plastic industry in the future.

 

COVID-19 TRACKER

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak situation (Dashboard)

Loading..

Confirmed Cases

Last update:

Loading..

Confirmed Deaths

Last update:

Loading..

Countries, areas or territories with cases

Last update: