Pandemics Create New Technologies — For Good and For Bad


New Technology

While Dixie’s disposable white cups may seem commonplace in grocery and convenience stores today, just before 1918 people enjoyed their food from metal and glass hardware for drinking and dining. Paper cups were generally unheard of — if you can believe it.

With the arrival of the Spanish Flu in 1918, Dixie’s mediocre, yet slow success thus far, shot up as healthcare professionals and average people opted for disposables. Launching a series of ads pushing the cup’s sanitary superiority, Dixie quickly became a household name.

“No matter how clean it may look, the soda glass is a common carrier of disease,” one Dixie ad reads from 1920.

Other companies and industries followed suit, launching a whole slew of new disposable items. We saw the creation of Kleenex and paper towels.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic is elevating a new era of products — Zoom, tele-health medicine, fast-fashion masks, etc. We’re seeing a rush to disposables similar to 1918, but this time single-use plastic — not paper — is the star of the show.

According to 100 scientists in a recent statement, we shouldn’t be so fast to assume that disposable plastic is the only answer. They argue that reusable bottles and cups are safe as long as they are cleaned properly.

“To prevent transmission through objects and surfaces, one can assume that any object or surface in a public space — reusable or disposable — could be contaminated with the virus. Single-use plastic is not inherently safer than reusables, and causes additional public health concerns once it is discarded,” according to the statement.

New Technology

This pandemic presents a unique opportunity for companies to develop winning cleaning technology for reusable products.

One company that prides itself on being the #1 cup washing company in the world, developed state of the art washing machines specially for their reusable cups. Globelet, based in New Zealand and San Francisco, works with large events, stadiums, companies, and major cities to go trash-free — and claims to have cleaned millions of cups.

This kind of dishwashing technology could be the modern answer we need at this moment.



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