Impact of COVID-19 on single-use plastics and the environment in Europe

  • Dr. Andreas Köhler
    Senior Researcher / Head of Subdivision Chemicals, Materials & Technologies Sustainable Products & Material Flows
  • David Watson
  • Kia Egebæk
  • V Bilsen
  • Federico Bley
  • Saskia Manshoven
  • Arlind Xhelili
  • Lars Fogh Mortensen
  • Ida Lippert Tange

This ETC/WMGE report provides the detailed analysis underpinning the EEA Briefing “Impacts of COVID-19 on single-use plastic in Europe’s environment”.

The COVID19 pandemic is having immense effects on societies across the world. Apart from far reaching health and economic consequences, the pandemic also has impacts on the environment and climate. To reduce infection risks, national governments imposed lockdowns, introduced stay-at-home measures and recommended or obliged the use of personal protection equipment. This has resulted in increased use of single-use plastic products, such as disposable masks, gloves and packaging.

This report provides an overview of the environmental and climate impacts of single-use face masks and gloves used for COVID-19 protection, and of plastic packaging used for e-commerce and take-away food deliveries, for the period from April to September 2020.