Countries and U.S. States & Localities are Banning Plastics, but Plastic Products Help to Fight the Coronavirus

The ban on plastic shopping bags is back-firing due to the coronavirus pandemic. The alternative, reusable shopping bags, are thought to harbor the virus and could facilitate its spread in grocery stores and pharmacies. An analysis of an outbreak of a novel swine enteric coronavirus disease in 2013 where millions of American piglets died showed that the reusable feed totes were the most likely cause. The feed bags are often made of the same kind of material as reusable shopping bags.

Other studies show similar results. In 2010, several Oregon teens and adults fell ill after attending a soccer tournament, which was traced to a reusable grocery bag that had been stored in a bathroom used before the outbreak by a person with a norovirus-like illness. Soccer players and their chaperones contracted the virus after touching the contaminated bag or eating food carried in it. A 2011 study of grocery shoppers’ reusable bags showed large numbers of bacteria in almost all of the randomly-searched bags and coliform bacteria in half of them because the majority of shoppers said they rarely or never washed them.

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