Italy generated 10% less waste during the coronavirus lockdown.
But environmentalists warn that the increasing reliance on disposable masks and packaging is jeopardizing waste reduction efforts.
Italian researchers estimate that the Italian lockdown in March and April, urban waste production fell by 500,000 tonnes.
The decline allows landfills in Italy to absorb the extra 300,000 tonnes of waste from protective masks and gloves expected to be used this year, according to the Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research.
But the pandemic is a blow to efforts to move away from single-use plastics in many places.
The United Nations, Greenpeace, Italy’s environmental organization Marevivo and other similar groups warn that continued reliance on single-use plastics will pose a long-term risk to the environment.
This is especially true for countries with long coastlines along the Mediterranean Sea, which are plagued by tiny bits of damaged plastic called microplastics.