COVID-19 Has Unleashed a Major, Unspoken Environmental Crisis


The Environmental Crisis is really a crisis of consciousness. Most people know the natural world is facing great challenges and degradation, but few know the true extents of the changes and deprivation the environment faces and its extended effects on human welfare and all other life on Earth.

The pandemic has allowed us to observe what scientists all over the world have been saying for years. The interdependence between humanity and biodiversity is so profound that the latter’s vulnerabilities are our own”, said Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in her message for the day.

When India Was Aligning Towards Plastic Free Future

At a time when the world was aligning with a more sustainable, plastic-free future, the onset of Covid-19 undid tons of efforts through the sky-rocketing usage of plastic in the form of disposable material, medical, and safety equipment. One way India is planning on tackling this is by using plastic waste to make roads, fuel, etc.

Increase in Single Use Plastic During COVID-19

From gloves, to PPE kits, to extra wrappings on food product and other consumable items; the usage of single use plastic has blown up dramatically in the last-half-a-year across all industries owing to pandemic. As Single-use plastics became associated with safety from sickness especially for front line health workers.

In the United Kingdom, so called fly-tipping illegal waste disposal has risen by 300% during the pandemic.

In some countries, companies that are advancing innovative methods of recycling and reusing waste plastics are reporting reduced amounts of plastic coming through waste streams, suggesting that a growing volume of plastic is ending up in landfills or leaking into the environment.

During the COVID-19 crisis, it is essential to protect the vulnerable, ensure that health workers have the tools and support they need to do their jobs safely, prevent health-care systems from becoming overwhelmed, and avoid additional waves of infection.

It has also facilitated adherence to social-distancing rules, by enabling home delivery of basic goods, especially food and it may have helped to curb transmission, by replacing reusable coffee cups and shopping bags in many cities over fears that the virus could stick to them.

Widely circulated images of plastic sacks of medical waste piling up outside hospitals, and used personal protective equipment floating in coastal waters and washing up on the world’s beaches, illustrate yet again the dark side of single-use plastics.

If we are not careful, short-term thinking during the pandemic could lead to an even larger environmental and public health calamity in the future.

The proliferation of plastic waste leads water pollution which was already a major concern for a growing share of the world population before the Covid-19 pandemic, with policymakers, companies, and international organizations like the United Nations urged to take action.

Some national and local governments implemented taxes and bans on single-use plastics (though not all have followed through on their pledges). Major companies invested in more environmentally friendly packaging. However, the Covid-19 crisis threatens to stall and even reverse progress.

Governments, for their part, must recognize the crucial role of waste-management services and their workers in the transition to a sustainable future, and allocate COVID-19 spending accordingly. But governments cannot always do it alone.

As the global economy restarts, aid agencies, development banks, and NGOs should invest in building effective waste-management systems. Beyond helping to keep plastic waste out of our oceans, such systems can provide decent jobs and improved livelihoods, resulting in stronger, more sustainable economies in the long term.

Why COVID-19 Will End up Harming the Environment?

Due to the corona virus outbreak's impact on travel and industry, many regions and the planet as a whole experienced a drop in air pollution. Even though the air has been cleaner as a result of the global lock downs, a more polluted future has been brewing while we weren’t looking.

The popular notation that the COVID-19 pandemic has been “good for the environment”; that nature is recovering while humanity stays at home: appeals many people grasping for some upside to the global tragedy. Reality, though, may not cooperate with such hopes.

Deforestation and Reforestation

The pandemic cover the illegal deforestation operations. This was observed in Brazil, where satellite imagery showed deforestation of the Amazon rain forest surging by over 50 per cent compared to baseline levels.

Unemployment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic facilitated the recruitment of laborers for Pakistan's 10 Billion Tree Tsunami campaign to plant 10 billion trees is the estimated global annual net loss of trees over the span of 5 years.

How Can We Tackle This Threat?

Scientists from the Indian Research Institution has pooled their expertise together to convert discarded PPE kits and other plastic waste into fuels and pellets that can be converted into automobile parts or used for road construction!

(Maybe then our roads lasts for more than 1000 years before the decompose)

For long term processes the waste management has to improve. Plastic re-usability into different product is needed and recycling has to step up.

Plastic waste doesn’t just keep lying around for decades clogs our rivers and other water bodies, leading a threat to marine life. Estimates suggest by 2025 that there will be more plastic than marine bodies in our oceans.

Written by - Mahak Galhotra

Edited by – Adrija Saha

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