Montreal (Quebec) –  Over 100 health experts from eighteen countries signed onto a statement today assuring retailers and consumers that reusables are safe during COVID-19, pushing back on claims by the plastic industry. The health experts — joined by Greenpeace and UPSTREAM, both members of the Break Free From Plastic movement — emphasize that disposable products are not inherently safer than reusables and that reusable systems can be utilized safely during the pandemic by employing basic hygiene.

The statement endorsed by scientists, academics, doctors, and specialists in public health and food packaging safety around the world — including Canadian experts from the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment  (CAPE), Unity Health Toronto, Nelson Jubilee Manor and Université Laval — notes that household disinfectants have been proven effective at disinfecting hard surfaces such as reusables. 

The statement comes on the heels of several temporary pauses on single-use plastic bans across the world and increased prohibitions on the use of reusables at grocery stores, coffee shops and restaurants amid COVID-19.

“As Canada takes steps to re-open more businesses, it is important for companies and governments to know that reusable materials can be safely deployed to protect the public, workers and the environment,” said Greenpeace Canada Oceans & Plastics campaigner Agnès Le Rouzic. “Basing decisions on bad advice from the plastics industry rather than the best available science only delays urgently needed action to tackle the climate and plastics crises, without ensuring public safety.” 

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the plastic industry has worked to boost profits and demonize reusable bags and other items. Pauses on single-use plastic bans followed a significant PR push from the plastics industry in the United States, using older industry-funded research to claim that reusables are more dangerous than disposables during COVID-19.

“Over the past few months, there’s been a lot of conflicting information about how the virus is spread, but we now know that surfaces are not the main way we’re exposed,” said Matt Prindiville, CEO of UPSTREAM – a non-profit sparking innovative solutions to plastic pollution. “Plastic harms our health along the entire supply chain. Fortunately, COVID is easily destroyed by proper washing, so restaurants, grocery stores and other businesses can serve us in ways that protect health without harming the environment.” 

The full statement signed by health experts can be found here. The list of signatories is included under the statement.


For more information, please contact:

Loujain Kurdi, Greenpeace Canada, Communications Officer, 514 577-6657, [email protected]