Reusable containers are “safe” to use during the pandemic, as long as they are “washed properly”, according to scientists.
More than 100 scientists from across the globe have signed a statement intent on providing reassurance to the public that it is safe to use reusable items such as cups and bottles, provided they are thoroughly washed.
The statement, published today (22 June), has been signed by scientists including epidemiologists, virologists, chemists, biologists and doctors.
I hope we can come out of the Covid-19 crisis more determined than ever to solve the pernicious problems associated with plastics in the environment
They state that, in accordance with public health guidance, reusable containers can be used when cleaned efficiently.
Charlotte Williams, a chemistry professor at Oxford University and one of the UK signatories, said: “I hope we can come out of the Covid-19 crisis more determined than ever to solve the pernicious problems associated with plastics in the environment.
“In terms of the general public’s response to the Covid crisis, we should make every attempt to avoid over-consumption of single-use plastics, particularly in applications like packaging.”
Rise in plastic
Throughout the pandemic, an increased need for personal protective equipment (PPE) and the use of disposable utensils at restaurants have contributed towards a “rise in plastic waste”, according to reports.
In March, Starbucks branches announced a temporary ban on reusable cups in response to the coronavirus outbreak and Defra also announced that it had suspended the single-use carrier bag charge for all grocery deliveries ordered online in England.
The change aimed to speed up deliveries and reduce the risk of contamination, and was a “temporary measure”, the Government said.
It’s great that more than 100 experts have reassured us that reusable containers can be safe for food, drinks and other groceries during the pandemic if washed properly
Government also announced its ban on single-use plastics, such as straws and stirrers, would be pushed back to October, leading to “concern” among campaigners.
Nina Schrank, a Greenpeace UK campaigner, said more and more of us own reusable cups and bottles to cut down on throwaway plastic and protect our wildlife, seas and rivers.
“So, it’s great that more than 100 experts have reassured us that reusable containers can be safe for food, drinks and other groceries during the pandemic if washed properly,” she said.
Dr Jennifer Cole, of Royal Holloway University, added that as our old lives “resume”, we must “make time and space to protect and nurture healthier environments to ensure a healthier future for all.”