COVID-19, Environmental Decline and Packaging Problems

Covid-19 has forced entire nations into lockdown mode, threatened lives across the globe, and triggered a financial meltdown. Will biodegradable paper cups help tackle the spread?

According to Chris Peach, Walnut’s head of packaging and design, COVID-19 is impacting the shopping habits of UK residents.

Since 2018, there’s been a trend where plastic was removed, and vegetables and fruits are sold unwrapped. But now, as more people become aware of the virus, shoppers begin asking themselves things like, who’s touched that fruit?

“No reports are indicating that coronavirus can be transmitted by food packaging or food,” read a recent statement from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). But still, lots of folks end up shunning the unwrapped products in favour of the wrapped ones. And there lies a problem.

So what’s the Problem?

To avoid infections, WHO recommends avoiding touching the eyes, nose and mouth. This is because hands touch lots of surfaces, and some might be contaminated with the virus (COVID-19).

For the reason above, many companies now sell food (and other products) tightly packed in plastics. The bad thing, lots of folks are now using one-time-use package bags. All thanks to COVID-19.

Early March, international coffee-chain Starbucks banned the use of reusable cups. Also, leaders in the global plastic industry are out, addressing the benefits of plastic.

The worse is coming…well, several governments recently announced plans to lower environmental standards and suspend monitoring requirements. This could impede efforts previously made by governments to reduce plastic pollution.

It’s no secret that the virus demands an immediate and forceful response. But governments also should look for long-term solutions as COVID-19 only reflects a broader trend—more “pandemics” are coming.

Weak policy decisions will likely result in an accelerated decline in the quality of the environment. The deterioration of our natural environment could have a ton of negative impacts on multiple human rights. For example, it may impact the right to health, food, culture, water, life and live in a clean environment.

The Relationship between Biodegradable Paper Cups, Pollution, and Coronavirus

For the UK, sustainability has been a huge trend since 2018. Many businesses have switched to more environmentally friendly options, like replacing plastic cups with branded biodegradable paper cups.

Landfills pollute the air and can be exceedingly harmful to local ecosystems. The statistics are out there; in the public domain. And all is clear. Humans living in regions that are heavily polluted, particularly, whose air is polluted are more likely to die from COVID-19 than those from areas with clean air.

The Lessons and How They Will Help Us Rebuild in the Post-COVID-19 World

As coronavirus is demonstrating, pandemics can negatively impact on the rights of millions of people. The effects are even worse on those who are already susceptible to environmental degradation, including the elderly, women and children.

The pandemic has put the world economy into a tailspin, with the UK heading for a steeper recession, experts warn. On March 10, economists predicted a possible 5% GDP drop, which they now believe was wrong. Just a week later they estimated possibly a 15 % decline and that could raise the country’s borrowing by hundreds of billions.

Supporting UK Manufacturing

Further, a recent quick survey indicated that 5% of Brits had lost their jobs, and another 9% have their pay hours cut. All these stats point to a recession deeper than in 2008-09. Thankfully, all shall pass. But what lessons should we learn?

Lesson 1: The Need to Support Local Businesses

The packaging industry is one of the most hit by the pandemic. In the UK, for example, self-isolation is leading to a shortage of supply in sustainable packaging products.

Supply chains in the region are now considering moving sourcing away from China following the disruptions in manufacturing and production. More others are looking to relocate their companies away from foreign countries.

Supporting british products

Packaging supplies have been hard to get as a result of factory closures in China. This could negatively impact food stock as packaging supplies from such countries continue to become difficult to obtain.

Now, companies are learning the need to avoid clustering of suppliers of sustainable packaging products in one region. This will increasingly become important to the UK, as climate change and other human-made crises continue to subdue the earth.

The reasons above make it crucial for local populations to look beyond choosing a product on lowest price only. Besides, there’s need to understand the overall value and dangers in the supply chain.

It’s time companies in the UK recognized the importance of continuing business and serving customers. Businesses that heavily depend on imported products have been forced to close their doors. This has led to thousands losing their jobs, helping to suck the economy into a “dark hole.”

While investing in a foreign country isn’t a bad idea, all of us should consider helping local businesses grow. We should help lay the foundation in what matters—for instance, supporting green businesses like, that are rooted in nature-based solutions focused on the public good.

Supporting regional companies can help move the needle during a crisis. These businesses could help by applying strategies that benefit society, including supporting their customers, employees, and the economy at large.

Lesson 2: Covid-19 Could Give Rise to a Greener Future, but It Starts With You

A report by Donella Meadows warns that the future of humanity will be determined by crises resulting from unsustainable living. By consuming our planet’s resources quicker than they can be replenished, and polluting the globe faster than it can recover, we’re setting ourselves up for a disaster.

If the UK jumbles through future shocks while maintaining old economic frameworks that led us here, we are doomed. Future crises will finally exceed the capacity of corporate crisis managers, financial institutions and governments to address. To some extent, the COVID-19 crisis has already done so.

Like coronavirus, biodiversity loss and climate change don’t observe physical or national borders. Then again, the pandemic has demonstrated that people can transform themselves in a couple of days or weeks.

During these difficult times, we hope the government adheres to science and prepares for the future. The government should also consider using science to design our economy. And not just reacting to pandemics, biodiversity loss and climate change.