IWWG Critical Review Session: Waste and COVID-19

PLENARY SESSION / 18 November 2020 / 13:15 - 14:30
Chair / Presidente: Anders Lagerkvist (SE)

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed considerable pressure on the waste management system and has challenged the Circular Economy, highlighting the already clearly evident contradictions and fragilities of the system. The slowing down of a series of industrial activities and the shutting down of yet others, together with the closure of foreign markets have prevented separately collected wastes from finding an appropriate collocation. This in turn has led to a saturation of storage both in recycling plants and, in some cases, in thermal treatment plants. An inverse situation has been created with regard to medical wastes, which in some contexts have increased threefold, with the related management being on the verge of collapsing due to the unexpected deluge of volumes to be handled. The most important consequence is that our waste management system can be unprepared and, therefore, it can be necessary to rethink our consolidated beliefs regarding plants in particular, and circular economy in general. The health emergency is not the only emergency that results in a significant variation in the quantity and quality of waste to be disposed of. Developing effective emergency plans for extraordinary waste management, in relation to any possible emergency, is of crucial importance.

In this critical review session, participants will share their point of view and discuss the critical issues that have emerged during the pandemic in their own country, with the aim of reflecting on the future of waste management and its social/environmental impacts.