Household packaging waste increases 15% due to the rise in e-commerce and over-protection of food products because of Covid-19
19 de June de 2020
19 de June de 2020
Thursday 18th June 2020 – EAE Business School has published a report entitled Sustainability and Covid-19, prepared by the lecturers May López and Elena Búlmer, which reveals that household packaging waste has increase by 15% due to the rise in e-commerce and the over-protection of food products because of Covid-19. At a global level, in March 2020, sales of packaged consumer goods increased by 10%..
“Due to the Covid-19 situation, the effect of increased packaging in household waste compounds the rise in waste generated by the use of facemasks, gloves and other sanitary material. The recommendation to mix these types of waste with all other household waste has limited waste processing and recycling, as a result of prioritizing prevention of infection during the waste collection and management process, thereby enhancing the negative impact”, explained Elena Búlmer, one of the authors of the report.
“Moreover, sustainable practices that were already implemented based on reusing materials and waste and sharing products and services have been reduced or even completely eliminated, as these practice are seen as posing a risk of infection as potential transmission channels for the virus”, added the lecturer at EAE Business School.
Before the health crisis caused by Covid-19, with a recycling rate of 36%, Spain ranked 19th among its European partners, well under the European average of 47.4%. the top recycler is Germany, with a rate of 67.3% before, while Romania ranked lowest with just 11.1%.
“It is essential that we develop a new production model based on the Circular Economy, which would enable us to halve the total greenhouse gas emissions generated by material management and waste generation. Aiming to reduce the impacts of resource extraction, this model increases the useful lifetime of products and the use of secondary materials, taking into account the product design, production efficiency, transportation and use, as well as establishing the most efficient and least energy-intensive processes for recycling and waste management”, explained Búlmer. .
AIR QUALITY AND COVID-19
With the stoppage of industrial and business activity and the reduction in urban mobility, the shutdown of cities has had a positive effect at a local level, with record-breaking drops in air pollution. During the lockdown, greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by around 25%, although emissions are still higher that the level needed to achieve the goals set in the Paris Agreement, as shown in this EAE report. In Barcelona, nitrogen dioxide levels fell by 83%, compared to 73% in Madrid and 76% in Castellón.
“This trend towards improved air quality may be offset by the need for social distancing and preventing future infections, which may lead to a reduction in shared public and private transport, higher use of private cars and greater dependence on e-commerce”, warned the author of the report and EAE lecturer, Elena Búlmer.
THE IMPACT OF E-COMMERCE ON SUSTAINABILITY
In this respect, EAE Business School’s report ‘The state of e-commerce and retail. Growth in the evolution due to the uncertainty of Covid-19’ , already revealed that 30% of the consumers surveyed by EAE plan to shop more online due to the Covid-19 crisis. Another statistic drawn from the research reveals that 8.3% of consumers have started to buy food products online, while 4% of the people surveyed have begun shopping online in general.
“The two-figure annual growth rate in e-commerce leads to a rise in the number of vehicles distributing goods, which is multiplied further as a result of several companies pledging to deliver products the same day or the next day. This pledge makes it harder to plan deliveries in advance or optimize the different route of load capacity of the vehicles, therefore requiring more vehicles for deliveries, which generate a greater direct and indirect environmental impact as it also causes more congestion in the areas they operate in”, explained the author and lecturer at EAE Business School, May López.
“Moreover, the establishment of product return policies, which in many cases involve no extra cost for the customer, generates an increasing proportion of returns year after year, becoming a growing factor with customers’ shopping habits. In fact, in 2019, Spain was the fourth leading European country in terms of the number of products returned”, added López.
“We have to reinforce the sustainable transportation systems in Spain to be able to achieve the goals set in the European Mobility Guidelines and the European Green Deal”, warned the lecturer.