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The Impact of Covid-19 on Sustainability

Today, our world is facing many serious challenges as we navigate our way through a global health crisis and the disruptive forces it unleashed.

Healthcare systems worldwide have grappled with an unprecedented surge of Covid-19 patients, while striving to protect their medical and support staff. Financially bruised economies struggle to recover their footing, while at the same time providing assistance to households most in need. Large industries, small businesses and other private sector groups work to keep commerce and essential items flowing despite supply chains challenges, while non-profits and individuals strive to help the hardest-hit communities.

As we continue to cope with the pandemic and its long-term consequences, we’ve seen changes in consumption and workplace lifestyles, a heightened awareness of social inequalities and a greater urgency to protect the natural resources of our planet.

These changes make abundantly clear the important role sustainability plays and will continue to play in Covid-19 recovery plans to secure a better quality of life now and for future generations.

A recent BCG Survey has revealed the top sustainability commitments by consumers on a global basis involves a reduction in household energy consumption, an increase in recycling and buying locally. In addition, 87% of consumers say they favor companies that integrate environmental concerns into their products, services and operations, even more than they did before Covid-19.

SINCE THE OUTBREAK OF COVID-19, ABOUT THREE-FOURTHS OF CONSUMERS WORLDWIDE CONSIDER ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES AT LEAST AS CONCERNING AS HEALTH ISSUES.

BCG-Survey

Source: BCG Survey on COVID-19 and the environment, conducted May 20-29, 2020. Number of respondents N=3,249.

In a recent address to the United Nations General Assembly,  Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, called for a global, post-pandemic reset that is both inclusive and sustainable in nature. “Recovery must be sustainable—embracing renewable energy and a green and resilient infrastructure. Otherwise, we will lock-in harmful practices for decades to come.”

Domtar’s track record as a responsible company that works to do the right thing is well-positioned to respond to the heightened sustainability demands generated by consumers since the outbreak. We have joined forces with customers, employees and communities, local and national government agencies, and nonprofit partners to respond to the pandemic, particularly regarding safety protocols and availability of our products as essential goods, while maintaining our commitment to environmental and social values.

SINCE THE OUTBREAK OF COVID-19, THE VAST MAJORITY OF CONSUMERS WORLDWIDE SUPPORT SUSTAINABLE ‘GREEN’ RECOVERY MEASURES.

BCG-Survey-2

Source: BCG Survey on COVID-19 and the environment, conducted May 20-29, 2020. Number of respondents N=3,249.

Here are major concerns held by the average consumer and household, as well as trends tracked across industries, sectors and jurisdictions, since the onslaught of Covid-19. They communicate the need to:

  • Improve safety and health practices world-wide to reduce our vulnerability to future pandemics and increase our agility in managing global health crises.
  • Fast-track innovation in technologies that will create more efficient, sustainable and inclusive practices in the manufacture and distribution of products, especially essential goods.
  • Increase digitalization of daily activities at home and work that will reduce the need to travel and increase virtual shopping, visits with medical and other professionals and other activities that can become virtual.
  • Accelerate climate change mitigation through decarbonization of operations and supply chains (i.e. reduction of Greenhouse Gas emissions (GHG) and increased use of renewable energy).
  • Promote a circular economy by minimizing the use of raw materials and natural resources and by repurposing waste.
  • Improve workforce development through diversity, inclusion and advancement opportunities for all employees across all industries and organizations.
  • Support and implement human rights principles worldwide.
  • Recognize social injustice and economic inequalities; consider ways to combat them and make them part of our everyday value agendas.
  • Enable and work with employees to support their local communities.
  • Support forestry, biodiversity and ecosystem conservation initiatives.

 

Covid-19 and its implications have revealed frailties in the health, environmental and social fabric of our planet. But it has also provided opportunities to find sustainable solutions to the urgent issues confronting the world.

No instruction manual came with the pandemic. ‘Business as usual’ will never and should never be as it was pre-pandemic. Individuals, businesses, governments and institutions were all taken by surprise and have learned hard lessons from Covid-19. As 2021 unfolds, we can all play a part in shaping a more sustainable and equitable world, rather than merely grinding through the current crisis. Through thoughtful engagement and collaboration, solutions can be found to shape a better, more resilient and sustainable future for everyone.

Related Blogs

What is a Circular Economy and How Consumers Can Play an Important Role

5 Ways Printers Can Build Customer Loyalty During Covid-19

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Contributors

Vanecia Carr
Customer & Brand Marketing Director
Meredith Collins
Customer & Brand Marketing Manager
Jill DiNicolantonio
Blog Contributor & Parse & Parcel Founder
Paige Goff
Vice President of Sustainability
Ashley Maydak
Creative and Brand Marketing Manager
John Parke
Customer Marketing Manager
Lori Slovik
Technology Manager
Tammy Tufty
Marketing Communications Manager
Nicholas Pearson
Marketing Specialist