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What's the Impact of Coronavirus on Sustainability?

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Given we don't speak about much else these days, we thought it would be interesting to look at Coronavirus - but with a slight change in topic, being through a sustainability lens. There are huge ramifications of Covid-19 with regards to healthcare, social care, the economy... but how is it impacting things like CO2 emissions, waste production and energy consumption?

manufacturing-coronavirus-emissions

In light of the pandemic (and panic) sweeping through the globe, it can be difficult to see any positives. Luckily, there are some. For example, the way that Coronavirus has brought our global economy to (almost) a grinding halt, which has resulted in a drastic reduction in manufacturing. In addition, fewer flights are taking off every day as countries close their borders and airlines are forced to ground their fleets. Both of these have a significant impact on carbon emissions. Some statistics show that China's carbon emissions have reduced by 25% - so much so that the change it can be seen from NASA images of January vs February 2020. It's too early to know the impact in Europe but no doubt it will also be significant too.

 nitrogen-dioxide-change-china-coronavirus

On the flip side, many of us are now working from our individual homes rather than communal offices. We'll all have the lights and heating on in our flats and houses, rather than just in one office which we share.

If we do pop out for a coffee to escape our four walls, most baristas won't accept our Keep Cups anymore. This is for understandable health & safety reasons for the baristas themselves, who would otherwise be touching lots of people's belongings without knowing how well they've been washed. The inevitable downside is that the number of disposable coffee cups going to landfill just skyrocketed.  

The biggest increase in non-recyclable disposables isn't coffee cups though. Just imagine the rate at which we are racing through disposable masks, gloves and anti-bacterial wipes compared to this time last year. The shift is staggering, but again, unavoidable for the time being given society's priority must be healthcare.

coronavirus-disposables-landfill-gloves

None of us know how long this bizarre period is going to last, but we'll check back in in the next few weeks to see if we can quantify the pros and cons in more detail and with more accuracy. For now, stay safe & clean, and get comfy as you watch a good new box set - looks like we might be here for a while! 

@ethicalstoriesethicalme

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