This is something you need to know about plastic industry. A lot of us suffer during the pandemic, whether it is mentally, physically, spiritually, even economically. However, would you believe it that not everything is in decline or disadvantage during the global pandemic of coronavirus?
Some people actually made more money during that tough period, and we cannot blame them for that. In fact, somehow, we indeed need their works at that time. And if we really want to make things really better, we should start now to make things better.
Who are ‘they’? They are plastic industry, which is said to make a lot of fortune due to pandemic requiring them to produce more products. Does it sound bad for the environment? Does it mean we have put even more burden to the planet?
Here, in this article we are going to talk about it specifically.
Hard Times During Coronavirus Pandemic
The high of coronavirus pandemic was also the lowest of human beings we ever witnessed. People were laid off from work everywhere on earth, for the reason their companies couldn’t pay for their wages every single month during the hard times.
And why did they not want to pay the wages? Well, because of coronavirus pandemic, most countries banned gathering a lot of people in one place, including at work. And because of that, production rate fell down significantly.
Further, because of that, the price of goods soared while the ability to buy them crashed very bad especially for those who were laid off the job. Things were worsened by lockdowns, preventing more people to earn money.
Economy crashed like a plane without engine everywhere on earth, and additionally we had to survive the worst by avoiding catching the virus at any cost. Such kind of mental torture sure made us tougher rocks, but even now that tough rock still has an unhealed crack.
So now, what if we tell you something that one of the most hated industries is growing bigger instead of collapsing in this situation? Plastic industry is recorded to gain more profits during the hard times, because of coronavirus-related reasons. What are the reasons?
The Rise of Plastic Industry
There are two reasons why plastic industry grew during the coronavirus pandemic, and we are going to talk about it one by one. The first reason is because it was considered as a miracle product that can protect us from the threat of coronavirus.
Look at our equipment during coronavirus pandemic which include face mask, face shield, hair cap, even whole-body protection suit. All of them contain plastic for four reasons: it is transparent, it is lightweight, it is incredibly flexible, and of course it is cheap.
Plastic is built from a compound tight enough to not the virus passes through. Comparing it with cloth, of course plastic is the better option make some gap with the virus. On the other hand, the other molecule-tight materials are not as flexible in usage as plastic, taking aluminum for example.
As quoted by The Guardian, one petrochemical industry executive stated that: “The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted how essential all our products are to everyone in society around the globe. We saw record sales and record volumes for our products throughout the pandemic.”
Moreover, the second reason for the growth is because we currently don’t have the alternative for plastic. What is the alternative for materials that can protect you from the smallest size of virus, but still cheap, flexible, and transparent?
Plastic Industry in Coronavirus Era
Plastic was everywhere during the coronavirus. Not only in the equipment used for body protection, but also in syringes, medicine packaging, hand sanitizer packaging, even plastic gloves. It made the plastic industry being flooded by orders of things that used to be in lower order, and kept the order for their regular items stable. No wonder the industry even met an increase.
“In Poland, despite the turbulences in the economy last year, the demand for plastics slightly increased. The industry has kept the employment level unchanged, ensuring safety of employees in this difficult period of Covid 19,” as mentioned by Marcin Bereza, Board Member of PlasticEurope Polska.
Of course, big investors knew it all before us, and subsequently poured more money into the industry. It even made the plastic industry grew bigger and innovative, while the industry working on its greener alternatives didn’t get enough attention since the pandemic took place.
Of course, there were strategies to keep the growth of the industry well, such as spreading terror to the people for their benefits. The strategy revolved around the consumption of single-use plastic because it means the demand for it keeps exist.
“[Plastic industry executives] were misusing a lot of studies to make people afraid and think they were going to contract coronavirus and die from bringing reusable bags to the store,” Greenpeace’s plastic researcher Ivy Schlegel told Frontline.
Why Recycling Didn’t Work
Another thing that made plastic became overlooked was because everyone thought the waste would be recycled. In fact, almost every single plastic waste we produce during the coronavirus pandemic was not recycled and went into either the ocean or landfill.
“If the public thinks that recycling is working, then they’re not going to be as concerned about the environment. I think [plastic industry executives] knew that the infrastructure wasn’t there to really have recycling amount to a whole lot,” Larry Thomas, the former head of the Society of the Plastics Industry mentioned in the documentary Plastic War produced by Frontline and NPR.
The reason why recycling is not likely to work as the solution for our plastic waste in this technology is because it is either too difficult or too expensive to separate recyclable plastic from general waste. And in this case, recycling will not work as good as we always thought as long as the problem persists.
Our best bet is to find alternatives to plastic that we can use to replace future plastic products. Now that coronavirus pandemic seems like to be more in control due to vaccination, we have another thing to fight for: plastic independence.