Coronavirus Impact: How a Crisis Is Changing the U.S.

Hiroko Tabuchi

March 26, 2020, 9:02 a.m. ET

Credit…John Taggart for The New York Times

The plastic bag trade, battered by a wave of bans nationwide, is utilizing the coronavirus disaster to attempt to block legal guidelines prohibiting single-use plastic. “We simply don’t want millions of Americans bringing germ-filled reusable bags into retail establishments putting the public and workers at risk,” an trade marketing campaign that goes by the identify Bag the Ban warned on Tuesday, quoting a Boston Herald column outlining a few of the group’s speaking factors.

The Plastics Industry Association can also be lobbying to quash plastic bag bans. Last week, it despatched a letter to the United States Department of Health and Human Services requesting that the division publicly declare that banning single-use plastics throughout a pandemic is a well being risk.

The science round reusable luggage and their potential to unfold illness is contentious. An oft-cited examine by researchers on the University of Arizona and Loma Linda University discovered that reusable plastic luggage can include micro organism, and that customers don’t wash reusable luggage fairly often. The examine was funded, nonetheless, by the American Chemistry Council, which represents main plastics and chemical compounds producers. The examine recommends that customers merely wash their reusable luggage, not exchange them.

Environmental consultants stress that single-use plastics can nonetheless harbor viruses and micro organism they choose up from their manufacturing, transport, stocking or use. A examine by the U.S. National Institutes of Health discovered that the novel coronavirus can stay on plastics and stainless-steel surfaces for as much as three days, and on cardboard for as much as someday. Still, merely disposing of the bag could be safer in that case, in keeping with proponents of single-use plastic.

What is evident, nonetheless, is that single-use plastic bans have change into a rising risk for the plastics trade. Packaging, together with single-use packaging, makes up round a 3rd of end-use demand for plastic resins as a complete, in keeping with the American Chemistry Council. Before the coronavirus outbreak, the nationwide move to ban plastic luggage had reached California, Hawaii, New York, in addition to cities like Boston, Boulder, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle.