COVID Drives Up Single-Use Plastic

June 29, 2020
Single-use plastic packaging, especially flexible film, is seeing a surge due to the pandemic.

Single-use plastic packaging, especially flexible film, is seeing a surge due to the pandemic, but it’s questionable how long it will last.

The Wall Street Journal reports that demand for flexible packaging, most of which is plastic, is forecast to rise 10% this year, compared with 3% last year. Much of that increase has come about as supermarkets have banned reusable bags and bans on single-use shopping bags have been rescinded. However, some of it comprises fruit, meat and even beverages being sold or served in single-use plastic that hadn’t been before.

Some efforts are being made to accommodate this surge, such as investments by Walmart and Procter & Gamble in improved sorting machinery for recyclable material, which would remove a major obstacle to recycling flexible plastic. The Flexible Packaging Association is asking for a $1 billion federal grant to study improved recycling systems for flexible plastic, but environmental advocates are opposing this as a bailout for the plastics industry.