Coronavirus News Asia

Food deliveries add to Thai plastic headache

Single-use plastic waste in Thailand ballooned during the coronavirus lockdown as demand for home food deliveries soared, activists say, setting back efforts to reduce the country’s dependency on the environmental scourge. 

The contagion has had mixed outcomes for Thailand’s environment, with dugongs, turtles and otters returning to beaches normally packed with tourists.

But in urban areas plastic food containers, cutlery and bags have piled up, clogging canals, rivers and landfills as people stuck at home because of the epidemic order take-away. 

Urban waste almost doubled between January and March from a year ago mainly due to increased food deliveries, says Wijarn Simachaya, president of the Thailand Environment Institute.

In Bangkok alone, rubbish leapt by 62% in April. 

“The situation is really worrying,” he says.

In Bangkok’s network of canals, trash collectors pluck plastic bottles, bags and containers from the fetid waters.

“Plastic pollution may kill more people than (the coronavirus) in Thailand,” says 12-year-old environmentalist Ralyn “Lilly” Satidtanasarn, the kingdom’s answer to Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg.

Plastic detox

Thailand along with Indonesia, the Philippines, China and Vietnam produce half the plastic waste in the world’s oceans, according to campaign group the Ocean Conservancy.

Over the last year all of those countries have pledged, or introduced, new rules to ban single-use plastic bags and other throwaway items.

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