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In Europe, air pollution fell while plastic use rose during Covid-19 lockdowns

Europe pollution lockdowns

According to EEA, COVID-19 restrictions across Europe had a mixed effect on the environment where air pollution fell while plastic use rose during lockdowns

The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdowns in Europe have led to some environmental improvements such as better air quality and lower carbon emissions, but they are temporary and coupled with a surge in single-use plastic, according to a report by the European Environment Agency (EEA).

On one side where extensive efforts have been put to eradicate the plastic usage from the third world countries, Europe has seen a surge in its use amid the coronavirus lockdowns in different EU countries.

The Copenhagen-based EEA said in a statement about pollution that lockdowns in Europe “may have some direct, short-term, positive impacts on our environment, especially in terms of emissions and air quality, although these are likely to be temporary.”

According to the data of the EU agency, the concentration of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a gas emitted mainly from vehicles that causes inflammation of the respiratory system has fallen sharply in those countries where lockdown was imposed in spring 2020.

The concentration of NO2 fell by 61 percent in Spain, 52 in France, and 48 percent in Italy, all countries which had strict lockdowns, the EEA said.

Noise pollution is one of the factors that reduced amid coronavirus. However, this contagious disease has brought about a significant spike in plastic consumption. The demand for protective gear like masks, gloves, and hand sanitizers is increasing.

Now restaurants have made mandatory to bring single-use plastic containers for the takeaway offer while increased online shopping has also contributed to the problem.

“The upsurge in demand for these items may challenge EU efforts to curb plastic pollution and move towards a more sustainable and circular plastics system,” the statement said.

The pandemic has also led to a sharp drop in oil prices, making it cheaper for manufacturers to use oil rather than recycled material to make plastic, it added.

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