Economy Vs Ecology? The Great Post-Covid Divide
In the last two months the scientific community has started to better understand COVID-19 and its impacts on human health. However, experts are only beginning to grasp the economic repercussions of the pandemic. All indications are that we are in a severe recession with tragic consequences for millions of people who have lost their livelihoods. The silver lining, however, is the impact this economic standstill has had on the environment. Specifically, water and air quality have seen significant improvement with fewer vehicles on the road, planes in the sky, and non-essential factories temporarily closed.
As countries begin efforts to reboot their economies, the trillion-dollar question is — will the recovery post Covid-19 be gentler on the planet this time round? Or will consumers, companies & countries sacrifice the environment for the sake of economic growth? A new divide is emerging. Many European governments and business leaders are calling for a Green post Covid recovery. South Korea’s newly elected Democratic party is pushing for a European-style Green New Deal, making it the nation first in east Asia to pledge net zero emissions by 2050. But in other countries, Covid-19 has been an excuse to roll back environmental policies and regulations – arguing that they stand in the way of economic growth.
At Ubuntoo, we believe that “going back to normal” is not an option. We continue to see a tremendous untapped economic opportunity in environmental solutions. We define sustainability as “delivering desired customer value by using fewer natural resources and producing less waste.” If implemented well, this means lower costs across the value chain. Sustainable products tend to be more expensive at first glance. But because they are usually made with renewable raw materials, designed to last longer, be reused more, or be more easily recycled, they often cost less through their lifecycle. In some cases, the cost advantages are instantly captured by producers and customers while in others, the benefits accrue to society.
In this issue of your digest we explore some sustainable solutions that reduce costs for everyone in the value chain. Solutions like these and many more that you can explore on Ubuntoo are a great choice for businesses seeking to recover from the COVID-19 recession with lower costs, lower prices, and higher profits.
Venky & Peter
Co-Founders — Ubuntoo
- WOOCOA A research team from the Universidad de Los Andes in Columbia has developed a biofabricated animal-free wool extracted from agricultural waste in a close looped cycle.
- BoxEaty The startup offers in France reusable glass food packaging for restaurants to reduce the amount of disposable food packaging (plastic, cellulose or cardboard) they use for takeaway meals (with a deposit system).
- CaffeInk In The Netherlands, CaffeInk extracts pigments and oil out of coffee waste to produce dark inks, paints and dyes from used coffee grounds, converting waste into a sustainable commodity.
- Nev House NevHouse takes the waste that we throw away and converts it into affordable shelters. Their homes, school classrooms, and other structures are made from recycled materials. These places of sanctuary can be built in just 5 days.
Upcoming PAC Free Webinar: Discover the environmental impacts of your products and packaging.
Here is a sample of the latest news from the industry. Please check our News Section to view more and subscribe to our Daily Digest if you haven’t yet to stay up to date in one click.
- European associations call for post-COVID-19 green action: Three pan-European recycling-related federations have issued a joint statement asking the government of the European Union to “put the Green Deal and the new Circular Economy Action Plan at the forefront the post COVID-19 recovery.”
- UNEP start-up challenge winners show how business can build back better from COVID-19: The winners of a 2020 UN Environment Programme (UNEP) start-up initiative are demonstrating business solutions that will help Asia build back better and greener after the COVID-19 pandemic.
- As Food Waste and Insecurity Spike, ReFED’s COVID-19 Food Waste Solutions Fund Aims to Spark Change Beyond the Pandemic.
- Ocean plastic food trays integrate natural defense mechanism to fight COVID-19: Norwegian company ZincIn is launching ocean plastic food trays that leverage integrated antimicrobial safety technology from Dutch company Parx Materials. The natural trace element found in the trays is vital to the human immune system and protects against bacteria and viruses without needing to wipe the trays clean.
Free market capitalism is one of humanity's greatest inventions and the greatest source of prosperity the world has ever seen. But this success has come with tremendous environmental cost. The book attempts to reimagine capitalism so that it is not only an engine of prosperity but also a system that is in harmony with environmental and social realities.
"He who knows what sweets and virtues are in the ground, the waters, the plants, the heavens, and how to come at these enchantments, is the rich and royal man." – Ralph Waldo Emerson