Mar 24, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Coronavirus forces pause in some local single-use plastic limits

Pile of plastic bottles

Photo: Epics/Getty Images)

States, local governments and restaurants are starting to pause plans to curb single-use plastics as they try and control the coronavirus outbreak, per Argus Media and the Wall Street Journal.

Driving the news: "The delays are in response to concerns that reusable bags and containers carry more risk of spreading the virus than single-use items, which are designed to be used once and thrown away," Argus reports.

Why it matters: It's yet another variable in the complicated question of how coronavirus will affect energy use policies and patterns in the near- and long-term.

The big picture: Petrochemicals used to make plastic are a big source of oil demand. The scope of future restrictions on plastics are one factor that will determine when global oil use eventually peaks.

Where it stands: States and local officials in Maine, New York, Massachusetts and elsewhere are taking steps to enable continued plastic bag use.

Where it stands: Major restaurants have also been forced to rethink their plans.

  • "Starbucks Corp. has said stores that remain open in North America would serve coffee only in disposable cups for takeout," WSJ reports.
  • "Starbucks, Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc. and Tim Hortons — owned by Restaurant Brands International Inc. — have all stopped filling customers’ reusable cups, a U-turn after years of encouraging them."

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