Have you ever noticed facemasks littering the streets? They’ve become a part of day-to-day life, but where do they end up? It’s estimated that around 1.5 billion facemasks entered the oceans in 2020! And it’s not just masks. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have made a lot more plastic for different uses.
We wanted to find out how much extra plastic waste there is due to the pandemic. We also wanted to find out how much enters the ocean, and where it eventually ends up.
We used data from lots of different sources to work out how much extra plastic has been made for the pandemic. We then used scientific models to work out how much of this plastic ended up in rivers and then the ocean. We found out that over 8 million tons of extra plastic waste has been made globally due to the pandemic. Over 25,000 tons of this has entered the ocean, where it can harm marine wildlife.