Fact v. Fiction: Taking on the Plastics Industry

May 26, 2020 2 min read

Fact v. Fiction: Taking on the Plastics Industry

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the adoption of single-use products has risen to an all-time high. Restaurants serve takeout in plastic to-go containers, grocery stores forbid reusable bags, coffee shops prohibit personal mugs, and single-use plastic gloves and masks litter the streets and waterways.

Unfortunately, fear and speculation play big parts in this ongoing pandemic, in large part due toThe Plastics Industry’s blatant attempt to promote single-use plastics as the safer choice.


...are they reallysafer?

Let’s take a quick look at the conversations around shopping bags.

The Claim: Disposable plastic bags are safer than reusable ones.

The Fact: There are zero studies to support this. 

The studies:

  • One study cited by advocates of single-use is over a decade old and partially sponsored by the American Chemistry Council, a fossil fuel and chemical industry group. Hello, bias.
  • According to  Johns Hopkins University, “evidence suggests that the virus does not survive as well on a soft surface (such as fabric) as it does on frequently touched hard surfaces like elevator buttons and door handles.” 
  •  A study in  The New England Journal of Medicine says the virus could live up to three days on plastic surfaces. Makes you wonder: how many people touched the stack of plastic bags at checkout, or pushed the same plastic handle on the shopping cart? In comparison, how many people touched your personal reusable bag?

The Claim: Bringing in reusable bags to a store could infect shoppers and workers.

The Facts: There is  no scientific evidence to support this claim.

The Studies: 

  • Pete Raynor, an environmental health scientist and airborne virus specialist at the University of Minnesota, says viruses have less of a fighting chance on porous surfaces like fabric.
  • Similarly, Ryan Sinclair, an environmental microbiology professor at Loma Linda University, is more worried about  what viruses you could bring out of a store, rather than what you might bring into them. Think: plastic bags touched by myriad checkout clerks, transportation personnel, manufacturers, etc. “As I've been thinking about this since the coronavirus, it's also about bringing things out of the store,” he said. Do you really want to touch a plastic bag, origin unknown, and bring it home to your family?

As always, our first priority is the safety of our fellow humans. But that doesn’t mean we can’t protect our planet at the same time. Our planet now pays the price for misinformation. Stop the spread. #Effsingleuse