Science of the Total Environment ( IF 6.551 ) Pub Date : 2021-02-20 , DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.145997 Walter Leal Filho, Viktoria Voronova, Marija Kloga, Arminda Paço, Aprajita Minhas, Amanda Lange Salvia, Celia Dias Ferreira, Subarna Sivapalan
Apart from the health aspects and the high death toll, the COVID-19 pandemic has, since its official recognition in March 2020 caused may social and economic problems. It has also led to many environmental ones. For instance, the lockdowns have led to higher levels of consumption of packaged products, and of take-away food.
This paper reports on an international study on the increased consumption and subsequent changes in the amounts of waste produced since the COVID-19 pandemic. The results show that 45–48% of the respondents observed an increased consumption of packed food, fresh food, and food delivery. One of the main reasons for the increased waste generation during the lockdown was the fact that people have spent more time at home. In addition, increases of 43% and 53% in food waste and plastic packaging. Drawing from comparisons on the amount of domestic waste produced before and during the pandemic, the findings suggest that some specific types of municipal waste have visibly increased, putting additional pressure on waste management systems. This characterises one of non-intended effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The results from this study provide useful insights to city administrations and municipal utilities on consumption patterns during emergency situations. This, in turn, may support more systemic and strategic measures to be taken, so as to curtail the increase of household waste during pandemic situations.