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Plastic use tripled since start of pandemic, takeout waste played role

The use of non-recyclable plastics has at least tripled since the start of the pandemic, and takeout waste is partially to blame.

In this Tuesday, March 31, 2020, photo, Glen Quadros, owner of the Great American Diner & Bar, hands over a takeout food order, packaged in compostable containers placed inside a plastic bag, to a waiting customer in Seattle. Just weeks earlier, cities and even states across the U.S. were busy banning straws, limiting takeout containers and mandating that shoppers bring reusable bags or pay a small fee. Grocery clerks are nervous that the virus could linger on reusable fabric bags and their unions are backing them up with demands to end plastic bag fees and suspend bag bans. The plastics industry has seized the moment, lobbying to overturn existing bans on single-use plastics. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) (Elaine Thompson, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The amount of single-use plastics used globally has at least tripled since the start of the pandemic, according to the International Solid Waste Association.

Even before the pandemic, packaging made up 30% of the United States’ trash. The Environmental Protection Agency reported a total of 80 million tons in 2017 alone.

Food takeout waste has played a role in the spike, with more people ordering delivery during the pandemic.

At the current rate, online orders are projected to grow tenfold by 2030.

You can limit your takeout waste by making small changes:

  • Request no disposable napkins, plastic utensils, straws and unnecessary condiments.
  • Opt out of a plastic bag
  • Reuse your to-go containers
  • Support businesses making eco-friendly choices