Action is needed to limit the use of “unnecessary” single-use plastic during the pandemic, campaigners have said.

During lockdown many chains banned the use of reusable cups for safety reasons, while disposable face masks have been found dropped on beaches.

Microplastics expert Dr Christian Dunn said the damage of single-use plastic “would last forever” and government action was needed.

The Welsh Government said it was working to reduce environmental impact.

In the aftermath of what has been called the Blue Planet effect, companies vowed to cut packaging and the use of disposable cups, with people encouraged to refill and reuse to cut single-use plastic.

The Welsh Government wants to send zero waste to landfills by 2050, with 70% of waste being recycled.

But when the coronavirus pandemic hit, some refill schemes were paused, due to concerns about the spread of the virus, and community groups across Wales reported an increase in litter.

Dr Dunn, head of The Plastic Research Centre of Wales at Bangor University, said while plastic was an important tool in preventing the spread of the virus and saving lives, the pandemic marked a “back step” in the fight against pollution.

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