How To Maintain Sustainability Efforts During A Pandemic
The disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on supply chains and stalled sustainability efforts as the demand for single-use plastic grows. This also puts increased pressure on forests as the need for packaging increases. In Italy, the crisis caused a 111% increase in consumer spending on packaged fruit alone.
While packaging businesses need to take urgent steps to keep the wheels of trade turning, operating responsibly does not need to take a back seat.
Here are some tips you can apply in your business right now.
Let non-essential staff continue to work from home
Social distancing remains the most effective method of curbing the spread of the virus. Allow staff that are able to work from home to do so.
There are proven benefits to remote working:
- staff spend more time at work because there is no need to commute
- less overland travel eliminates the carbon footprint of staff commuting to work
- there are fewer distractions at home
- meetings that require travel can be conducted by video conferencing
Find alternatives to single-use plastic
Demand for single-use plastic is surging. The New England Journal of Medicine found that the virus remains viable for up to 72 hours on plastics. This means more plastic is ending up in landfills than ever before. In China alone, medical waste has quadrupled to 200 tons a day.
The demand for protective plastic packaging extends to all sectors, including eCommerce. Companies need to relook at the packaging use journey during times of disruption and identify alternatives to reduce the environmental impact caused by the increased demand. Efforts can include switching to biodegradable or compostable plastics, and reducing the amount of plastic packaging fillers used during shipping.
Help smaller producers
Diversifying your supply chain can help decrease the effects of disruption by allowing you to pivot quickly to avoid delays. Choose smaller niche suppliers located within your geographical area to reduce the carbon footprint of your raw materials and help small businesses keep running. Just remember that suppliers are also a source of waste and by-products, so ensure your diversified supply chain is as transparent as possible.
It is a time of great uncertainty for the packaging industry, but it doesn’t need to be the end of the road for the sustainable successes many in the industry have championed for.