COVID-19 Impact on Single-Use Plastics in Chemical and Materials Industry

Posted by swarajya on April 7th, 2021

COVID-19 Impact on Single-Use Plastics in Chemical and Materials Industry


Single-use plastics are the type of plastic which can be used for the single time and cannot be used for further applications. Single use plastics products are made from the petrochemicals and other additives which provide strength to the single-use plastics products which increases the application in the various end-use industries. Single-use plastics products can easily be manufactured as product have small manufacturing process which also results in the less cost of production of the single-use plastics products.

Most of the single-use plastics products are non-biodegradable and some of the single-use plastics products slowly break down into smaller fragments and particles which are known as micro plastics. Several studies suggested that single-use plastics products such as bags and containers which are used in the packaging and carrying applications are made of expanded polystyrene foam which is known as Styrofoam. The materials which are used in the manufacturing of the single-use plastics products can take up to thousands of years for decompose in soil and water.

During the decomposition, the single-use plastics products releases the toxic chemicals in the soil or water which are dangerous for the aquatic life as well as for the ground water level. The single-use plastics products which is most commonly used found in the environment are cigarette butts, plastic drinking bottles, plastic grocery bags, plastic lids, food wrappers, straws and stirrers, plastic bottle caps, other types of single-use plastic bags which are used in shopping and in retail sector and other foam of single-use plastics products are used as take-away containers which are thrown after the single use.


The pandemic situation which is created by COVID-19 has resulted into the global crisis which is evolving at high speed and scale in all the regions globally. Corona virus has started from the china country and now has reached to every place in the word. No business or industry is immune from the COVID-19 effect. Corona virus has created the pandemic situation in the word which has affected all the large manufacturing sector as well as small manufacturing and service sector.

Some of the businesses also have the positive impact of the COVID-19 as the single-use plastics products. Due to the COVID-19, the demand of the single use plastic has increased in all the regions. The COVID-19 has resurrected single-use plastic products demand in the market due to which manufacturers are able to increase their business. In global aspect, there is no denying that single-use plastic products have resulted in the saving of life for the people who are fighting against COVID-19 especially for frontline health workers and in the societies, due to which the demand for the single use plastic have increases in the pandemic situation. As we all are aware that COVID-19 virus is highly contagious and can spread through the transmission of droplets of infected person that land on objects and surfaces around the another person, due to these circumstances, the use of the single-use plastic products have increases in all the regions.

Beside the ban on the single use plastic in North America, Europe the demand of single use plastic in several other countries has increased. Single-use plastic products cannot be recycled and do not go through the disposable process which have become the worry for the government in the several 

region. As during the COVID-19 the demand for the single use plastic products has increased by 50% in the residential, health care and in packaging of the food and beverages product in the global market which have the positive impact on the demand of the single-use plastics products during COVID-19. Grocery stores have sharply increased the usage of the single-use plastic bags for the packaging and carrying of the goods for the home delivery. The usages of the single use plastic products have increased in the medical and hygiene products which have resulted in the increment in the demand for the single use plastic products.

During the COVID-19 there is an exponential increase in the e-commerce due to which the demand of the single use packaging products for the essential goods and also for the food and beverage products has increased globally various applications to stop the spread of the corona virus to some extent. In the developing countries the demand for the single- use plastic bags has been increased as plastic bags are being used in the distribution of the food during the lock down as donation of food drives and food distribution have made infinitely easier and cheaper with the single-use plastic bags. With the increment in the use of the single-use plastic bags or products during the COVID-19, the several manufacturers have also invested in the business to increase the production of the single-use plastic products. The demand of the single use plastic products was more from the medical sector such as the demand for the face masks, PT kit, gloves and other hygiene products have increased which have created the positive impact on the single use plastic during the COVID-19 situation. E-commerce activities have increased in the COVID-19 situation as people are not allowed to move out due to the regulations by the government. The demand of the essential goods during the COVID-19 has increased which has resulted in the more e-commerce activities in the developing countries. Several grocery dealers have also entered into the home delivery services of the goods which have increased the demand of the single-use plastics products for packaging of the goods and to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The challenge have been raised during the COVID-19 for the manufactures as the single use plastic products were banned in the various countries by the higher authorities or government, but during the COVID-19 the rules were not applied properly which have increases the use of the single-use plastic product to stop the spread of the corona virus. The single-use plastics waste generation from the households, medical has increased but due to the lock down in the countries the decomposition of the waste of the single use plastic cannot be done properly which is a draw back for the single use plastics.

For instance

  • In May 2020, PIE – Plastics Information Europe has done a survey on business performance to know about the business trends in the European plastics industry during the coronavirus pandemic.

Among the plastics companies detailing lower deals compared to April 2019, the smallest enterprises show up harder hit, with nearly 60% saying deals fell at slightest 20%, compared to around 45% of mid- to large-sized firms. By region, respondents within the Nordic nation were outstanding since nearly half detailed higher deals compared to April final year. A 72% share of plastics processors are managing with falling sales. Processors with business within the packaging sector fared better fared way better, with around 40% detailing expanded sales, More than half of study members report that the Covid-19 widespread is positively influencing the public image of plastics, whereas about 40% say there's no affect. As it were 6% see the picture of plastics getting more awful as a result of the widespread.


During the COVID-19, the government has issued several rules and regulation due to which business have to suffer a lot. Several manufacturing units of the beverage products have halt of production of the finished goods during lock down period in the in countries. Beside the lockdown in the country, the demand of the essential products has also increased and also the e-commerce facility has also flourished in the developing nation. With the increasing prevalence online food delivery and the grocery products the usage of the single uses plastic products for the packaging has also increased.

The demand of the plastic bottles has also increased in the beverage market. The packaging of the liquid products in different quantities are being done in the single use plastic bottles which are transported in the single-use plastic carries from one place to another. The more use of the single-use plastic products in the food has beverage industry have created the positive impact on the single-use plastics industry. 


In the COVID-19, the demand of the daily use finished good have increased due to which the use of the e-commerce platform have increased in all the regions. During the pandemic situation the users on the e-commerce platform have increased by the 60%. The good which we receive through the online delivery have the several layers of the single use plastic to protect the good from the damage during the transit. With the increase in the online food delivery and other essential goods, the use of the single-use plastic for the packaging purpose has also increased. People majorly prefer the home delivery of the goods as it is safe for the people and now a days, people prefer less to go malls to fulfill the requirement of the daily use items, rather they shop online due to which the demand for the single-use plastic in the packaging products and films have increased during the COVID-19 situations.

For Instance,

  • In the U.S., the retailers have gone on online which have resulted in year-over-year (YoY) revenue growth which is up to 68% as of mid-April which is surpassing an earlier peak of 49% in early January 2020.
  • There is growth of 129% in year-over-year in the U.S. & Canadian e-commerce orders has been recorded as of April 21, 2020 and also an impressive 146% growth in all online retail orders during the COVID-19 situation.
  • Online conversion rates increased by 8.8% in February, reflecting a level of shopping urgency typically seen during Cyber Mondays, according to Quantum Metric.
  • The growth in the house hold market such as handcrafted items has also increased which include masks and home furnishings which have exploded during the pandemic, with sales spiking 146% due to which the single-use plastic usage had been increased for the packaging of the goods.


The pandemic situation which is created by the COVID-19 has created the positive impact on the demand of the medical hygiene products. Several hygiene products are made with the use of the single-use plastic such as face masks, PE kit, gloves and face shield and other many products which were high in the demand during the COVID-19 period as in the hospitals the demand for the mask and sanitizers have increased by 90% in all the regions.

The medical hygiene products are made from the single-use plastic which means the product are waste after the single use and cannot be used again. The manufacturing of the gloves and full cover body sheet are manufactured on the larger extend by the manufactures in different countries which have also increased the demand for the single-use plastics in the medical industry. The COVID-19 has created the situation of fear among all the age groups and the demand of the medical products and hygiene products have been increased in all age groups. The demands for the sanitizers which are packed in the single-use plastic bottles have been increased on a very high pace due to which the demands of the single-use plastics products have increased in the medical industries. In future, with innovation of the vaccine for the corona virus the demand for the single-use plastic for the manufacturing of syringe will be increased by 80%. The demand of the face mask was near to RS 6,000 crore in starting of the year 2019 which may have increase to the RS 12, 00,000 crore during the 2020 in all the regions which is near to 20,000% of total increment.


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Joined: April 7th, 2021
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