Rethinking and optimising plastic waste management under COVID-19 pandemic: Policy solutions based on redesign and reduction of single-use plastics and personal protective equipment

Sci Total Environ. 2020 Nov 10:742:140565. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.140565. Epub 2020 Jun 30.


Plastics have been on top of the political agenda in Europe and across the world to reduce plastic leakage and pollution. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has severely disrupted plastic reduction policies at the regional and national levels and induced significant changes in plastic waste management with potential for negative impacts in the environment and human health. This paper provides an overview of plastic policies and discusses the readjustments of these policies during the COVID-19 pandemic along with their potential environmental implications. The sudden increase in plastic waste and composition due to the COVID-19 pandemic underlines the crucial need to reinforce plastic reduction policies (and to implement them into action without delays), to scale up in innovation for sustainable and green plastics solutions, and to develop dynamic and responsive waste management systems immediately. Policy recommendations and future research directions are discussed.

Keywords: Bioplastics; Environmental sustainability; Plastic pollution; Plastic waste; SARS-Cov-2.

MeSH terms

  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections*
  • Europe
  • Humans
  • Pandemics*
  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • Plastics*
  • Pneumonia, Viral*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Waste Management*


  • Plastics