In some business sectors, it is suspected that up to 50% of the supply chain will have disappeared in the wake of the pandemic. The effect of retail stores shuttering and bans on large gatherings had an almost immediate knock-on effect down the supply chain. Simultaneously, the isolation measures in manufacturing regions around the world meant that, even if retail had stayed open, no one was allowed to be in the factories to make the goods. In Bangladesh and India over half a million people packed what they could and headed back to the villages from whence their families had come however many years ago. Even if the economy could theoretically pick up where it left off in March the workers, and in thousands of instances, the businesses, are no longer available. The links of the chain have scattered.
For over four decades there have been calls to redirect our economy to maintain our natural systems that make the Earth livable for us – you know oxygen, water, stable weather patterns etc. This endeavour, in spite of brilliant minds developing solution pathways, great campaigns, and the hopes and desires of billions of people, has been quashed by powerful economic forces. The natural feedback needed to motivate societies to adopt greener modes of production and simpler (i.e. less consumeristic) modes of living just haven’t been strong enough – not species extinctions, not droughts, or forest fires, or sea levels rising, nor consecutive Category 4 and 5 hurricanes. The systems of production and consumption have such a grip on how our lives are organized that we have not been able to find our way to shift direction … and then the pandemic hit. The proverbial fork in the road.
Post COVID19, the way in which many goods will be produced – what, where, how and with what materials – will be a matter of choices. Many producers of pulp and paper/packaging and viscose type fabrics and goods are, or will be, seeking financial support from governments and off-take agreements from potential corporate customers. Companies on the demand side of the supply chain can choose to prioritize manufacturers that support Next Generation modes of production – like use of recycled textiles for viscose and agricultural residues for paper packaging, rather than cutting down precious forests to feed the mills. The government stimulus funds and corporate off-take agreements can as readily go to the producers and innovators who will help rebuild a safer world as to the problematic manufacturers that are toxic, energy intensive, and use fibres from extreme logging.
Ancient and Endangered Forests do not have to be part of the supply chain rebuild. For the first time in a very, very long time the runaway train has been slowed down enough to offer us time to think about which track to take. It is a matter of choices now whether we rebuild to make the same mistakes all over again or whether we take this disaster of a pandemic and rebuild for the next generations.
Read SURVIVAL – A Pulp Thriller, Canopy’s 2030 Action Plan for ramping-up production of paper/packaging and viscose fabric made with environmentally preferable alternative fibres to trees from Ancient and Endangered Forests.