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How do we win the battle against plastic when it's essential during the pandemic?

We were finally altering our habits, and then it all changed with the pandemic. Caroline O'Doherty reports on what needs to be done to get back on track in reducing our dependence on plastic

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Contactless cup: Frank Kavanagh, co-founder of Cloud Picker Coffee, in Dublin. Photo by Mark Condren

Contactless cup: Frank Kavanagh, co-founder of Cloud Picker Coffee, in Dublin. Photo by Mark Condren

There has been increased use of plastics in the healthcare sector, including visors, during the pandemic

There has been increased use of plastics in the healthcare sector, including visors, during the pandemic

Getty Images/Science Photo Libra

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Contactless cup: Frank Kavanagh, co-founder of Cloud Picker Coffee, in Dublin. Photo by Mark Condren

Profiting from a pandemic might seem questionable, but a good businessperson never lets an opportunity pass them by. So it shouldn't be surprising that the powerful US plastics industry was quick to react to Covid-19.

In a letter to the US secretary of health Alex Azar in March, the Plastics Industry Association called for action against cities and states that had banned single-use shopping bags and coffee cups, arguing that reusable items risked transmitting the coronavirus.

"We ask that the department speak out against bans on these products as a public safety risk and help stop the rush to ban these products by environmentalists and elected officials that puts consumers and workers at risk," the organisation wrote.