COVID-19 has disrupted the scheme of the things and given a chance for numerous industries including waste management to see their way clear to sustaining a tolerable performance in the time of crisis. Throughout the period, waste management firms have come across particular factors impacting the entire business. Ascending consumption, changing waste types, and transforming customer requirements brought along specific challenges as well as established a ground for fresh opportunities.
During the lockdown, our consumption patterns have transformed due to fear of infection, hyper-hygienic behavior, and self-quarantine obligation, so increasing the demand for plastic-packaged food and grocery products have been noticed in the waste management sector. These modifications have not merely been observed at the individual level but additionally in our working environments. Most firms have altered the way they deliver food from table d’hote to packaged foods. In South Korea, raising in daily packed-food order is reported as %92, comparable to last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic (Vanapalli et al., 2020). This dramatic increment in packaged food can generate a surplus in plastic packaging waste.
One of the most challenging impacts of COVID-19 is an increase in the number of medical waste and its management all around the world. Demand for medical products such as surgical masks and single-use-gloves has aggressively moved up during the pandemic. Personal protective equipment has a daunting impact on the waste sorting process throughout the pandemic era. In particular, infectious waste, requiring tailored safety precautions, becomes mixed with domestic garbage. Concerns arise that the issues in waste segregation could lead to critical consequences for the most vulnerable groups including cleaners, trash collectors, homeless and other people who have to spend time in public places. Furthermore, the mixed waste may drastically increase COVID-19 cases as well as trigger the transmission of other pathogens existing in the discarded masks such as meningitis and Hepatitis B (Saadata et al., 2020).
Firms providing service in the waste management industry gained an invaluable insight into the type and volume of the waste generated during a period of crisis. As an opportunity obtained from the process, the companies comprehend the significance of leveraging their strategy to manage inventory which is essential for the operations in trash collection, waste segregation, and waste disposal. The firms can deploy a risk-averse plan and reorganize the stocks living up to demands (or requirements) through taking the prior experience into account. Thereby, an inadequate inventory problem would be prevented in case of any contingency or externalization that emanates from the strict import restrictions.
Actions taken facing the disruptions which may arise due to COVID-19 and effective waste management solutions restraining the spread of the epidemic by the exclusion of the mixed waste from the city center have paved the way for a strategic partnership between municipalities and private companies. Herewith, the companies operating waste processes for inhabitants of the city enjoy a greater brand reputation along with a PR opportunity incurred as the net result of being perceived as prominent heroes who minimize the adverse outcome of rapid transmission. The higher the level of reputation the more there is a probability to captivate investors. Henceforth, the municipalities that overcome waste load thanks to those firms will be implicit spokesmen while implementing further marketing practices.
COVID-19 is a difficult period that will leave deep marks for waste management companies. During this period, the amount and type of waste are out of its normal flow, resulting in some industry effects. Still, it is up to companies to turn this situation into opportunities.
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