COVID-19 and the Environment

COVID-19 has transformed life for people across the world. This pandemic has taken a toll on our physical, financial, and emotional health. The global economy has been derailed, millions of American workers have been laid off, and countless people haven’t left home in weeks. While the coronavirus outbreak made an immediate impact on our lives it could also have lasting effect on the world that we live in. A recent article from Packaging World brought up an interesting point, how does the COVID-19 outbreak impact our environment?

How does the COVID-19 pandemic affect our environment short-term?

The COVID-19 outbreak made an immediate impact on our environment. Air quality has increased and green house gas emissions have decreased across the globe.

Take the Colorado Front Range, for example. The area surrounding Rocky Mountain National Park and Colorado’s capital typically sees substantial motor traffic from tourists heading into the mountains for ski trips and residents driving their daily commutes.

This traffic results in a “brown cloud” of air pollution that lingers above the Front Range. However, the air quality in this area has improved significantly during the coronavirus outbreak. With stay at home orders in place, discretionary travel being discouraged, and ski resorts closing, traffic in this area has decreased 80%.

There are examples of improved air quality all over the world from Delhi to Bangkok to Beijing.

How does the coronavirus affect the environment long-term?

Clean air is a good and exciting thing, but we can’t let it mask the long-term environmental effects of COVID-19.

The United States sold literal tons of recycling to China for decades. However, China reduce purchase of our recyclable material in 2018. That’s because our recycling is filled with trash: Styrofoam, plastic numbers three through seven, aluminum foil, light bulbs, broken coffee mugs, plastic trash bags, etc.

U.S. recycling facilities can’t handle the volume of recycling that we produce (even if they could, there’s still too much trash in our recycling for efficient processing). Many towns and cities are choosing to send recycling to landfills rather than pay waste management companies more money for recycling services. This means that tons of recyclable material goes to landfills.

And that was before the coronavirus outbreak.

COVID-19 has amplified the recycling problem in the U.S. Many recycling facilities closed doors because of the coronavirus pandemic. We are also seeing more disposable products being purchased and used during the outbreak: plastic water bottles, surgical masks, gloves, take out containers, disposable cutlery, etc. More people are staying home and making online purchases, which also means more packaging.

This means that even more recyclable material is heading to the landfill.

Many are in survival mode at the moment, focusing on what the day will bring rather than environmental conservation. This is understandable. However, we must remember that while this outbreak is temporary our actions can have a lasting impact.

We hope everyone is staying healthy and safe during this difficult time, especially those working in the critical industry space. Call 479-422-0390 for emergency repair or troubleshooting support for your Indramat motion control system.