The coronavirus pandemic has been a “wake up call” to the waste sector, according to the University of Southampton.
Coronavirus and the Waste Sector
A new academic study suggests that there will be long term disruption due to the pandemic that will pose a threat to sustainability. The effect of the COVID19 lockdown on waste management in the UK could be enormous. Almost all household waste recycling centres are closed, and there have been increases in home clearances and people taking on DIY projects. All of this has led to a 300% increase in fly-tipping.
Unless people take alternative action, such as hiring a Martlands skip, their recyclable waste might end up being sent to landfill or incinerated, harming the environment. Charity shops are also closed, which affect people’s ability to let their unwanted goods be re-used. An increase in online shopping has led to warnings about cardboard shortages as people receiving online shopping deliveries are unable to recycle the boxes.
The analysis highlights the need to transform from a linear economy, where products are thrown away at the end of their lives, into a circular economy where waste is recovered and reused as a resource. The long-term disruption of the pandemic poses a threat to sustainability and the economic benefits of having a circular economy, the scientists say.
Professor Williams of the University of Southampton said: “This pandemic is a wakeup call to both governments and the waste sector that that supply chains and markets for recyclates must be diverse and resilient. The current waste management system needs to evolve to be resilient to the impacts of such extreme global events if we are to create a successful circular economy.”
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