What The Pandemic Has Not Changed For Waste Management

Even though much of the way we do business has changed since the onset of COVID-19, our zero waste and sustainability goals have not changed.

No matter what business you’re in, here’s what you should continue to focus on, and why:


The pandemic has made it clear that recycling is here to stay.

When the quarantine cut off the supply of recycled office paper to toilet paper manufacturers, a shortage ensued.

Recyclable materials are commodities that feed our supply chains. Businesses continue to recycle not only to reduce waste going to the landfill and incinerators, but to control rising waste disposal costs.


Commercial organics regulations have not changed and are, in fact, being expanded in major cities like NYC, where businesses must comply with updated organics rules effective July 31, 2020. This is because food waste and other organics account for a significant chunk of U.S. waste.

  • According to the U.S. EPA, organic materials comprise a majority of total municipal solid waste generation.
  • A Great Forest survey of 100+ waste audits nationwide found that organic material account for 36% of commercial office trash.
  • Even during quarantine, food waste has continued to be a problem because of disruptions to the supply chain.


Moving towards Zero Waste will remain imperative because it is the only sustainable long term strategy to control rising waste disposal costs.


Unfortunately, plastic pollution will continue to be a problem as some are returning to single-use items to reduce the perceived risks of virus transmission.

While plastic bag bans, for example, have been rolled back in some places, these regulations are still being enforced in areas like New York State.


Due to shutdowns around the globe, pollution has dissipated in many places, and some people are seeing blue skies for the first time. The public will not forget that when necessary, the world (and businesses) were able to unite to stem a threat.

Consumers will continue to demand greater accountability and transparency from the businesses world, which will further necessitate an increased requirement for carbon footprint and other sustainability reporting.

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