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How is COVID-19 impacting the environment around us?

Over the last two years, COVID-19 has spread exponentially across the world, threatening lives of people, uprooting health infrastructure, affecting the global economy, and making a crushing impact on our environment. A year before we all witnessed some relief from constant pollution, and for once the environment has bounced back faster than we thought it could. Now, the gripping condition indicates how we are in dire need of better implementation of the environmental, transport and industry regulations to ease the detrimental impacts of human activity on the environment.

Even before the pandemic, rapid climatic changes remained a matter of pressing concern for all of us. Think before wasting a resource! The environment we live in today is important to us in every way.

In India, with the surge of COVID-19 infections we have also acknowledged major shifts of climatic changes that have grabbed global media attention. Nowadays, while we are on war-foot with the battle against the deadly virus, our environment is facing devastating effects from excessive inorganic waste and getting disposed of in bulk.

This World Environment Day, let’s put a light upon the rising issues that are wreaking havoc in our country.

Production and disposal of medical equipment such as surgical masks, gloves, protective equipment, and PPE kits has rapidly increased to combat Covid-19 crisis. In such times, hospitals are generating much more waste as healthcare professionals and caregivers have had to switch to single-use packaging and items to curb the risk of spreading infection.

Also, demand in home deliveries upsurge during the lockdown led to indiscriminate use and disposal of plastic packaging. In this phase, rising health concerns have automatically driven the rapid usage of single-use plastic instead of reusable packaging.

Also, many countries have even stopped their recycling programs due to the risk of spreading the virus in recycling centers. 

What can be done?

Segregation is the key and a well-planned healthcare waste management is required to minimize the hazardous risks exacerbated due to the pandemic. Due to unavailability and the overloaded systems immediate removal and destruction of medical waste is next to possible in the coming days. However, separating non-hazardous waste can dramatically reduce the volume of generated waste which can be done under a specialised treatment. Meanwhile, implementing temporary operational adjustments to dispose and handle medical waste procuring existing municipal waste management facilities in a proper way could reduce the burden on the environment.

 Conclusion-

This is our moment! If we manage the situation in the right way, it will reflect the positive outcomes in the long run. We need effective techniques and collaborative approach of governments, conservationists, industrialists and the general public in an effort to identify the barriers and drive grassroots actions to restore the environment in the best possible way.