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Published: Kem. Ind. 73 (1-2) (2024) 65–74
Paper reference number: KUI-22/2023
Paper type: Review
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The Impact of COVID-19 Behaviour Patterns on Ecosystems

P. Bubaš, D. Hećimović, F. Mikuličić, I. Terzić and M. Miloloža


The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a shift in global thinking and brought about new and specific behavioural patterns worldwide. The pandemic period was largely focused on the global health crisis, leading to the neglect of certain pre-pandemic circular values. In prioritizing the health of their citizens, many countries and governments reverted to linear economies. Furthermore, the world population witnessed a rapid increase in the consumption of certain pharmaceuticals, an (over)emphasis on personal hygiene and the use of disinfectants, and a surge in the demand for disposable plastics due to reduced human contact. While some industries experienced temporary shutdowns, others operated with increased intensity. Overcrowding in healthcare facilities coupled with inadequate disposal of medical waste and hospital wastewater, has inflicted a specific blow to global ecosystems. Consequently, an unexpectedly large quantity of various pharmaceuticals, personal care products, single-use plastics, personal protective equipment, and hazardous and non-hazardous medical waste has found its way into the environment. Therefore, it is crucial to consider the broader environmental consequences of pandemic-related behaviour and devise suitable solutions to prevent and reduce pandemic-induced environmental pollution. Certain pandemic-related behaviours need changing, existing damage requires remediation, and global production should be directed toward newer and more sustainable technologies. This paper provides a brief overview of the consequences of the global health crisis on the biosphere, and outlines perspectives for addressing encountered problems and mitigating future disasters.

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COVID-19 pandemic, pollution, sustainability, environment, pharmaceuticals