Food deliveries during lockdown fuel surge in Thailand's plastic use

This article is more than 12 months old

BANGKOK : 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 dependence 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, said Mr Wijarn Simachaya, president of the Thailand Environment Institute.

In Bangkok alone, rubbish leapt by 62 per cent in April.

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," said 12-year-old environmentalist Ralyn "Lilly" Satidtanasarn, the kingdom's answer to Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg.

The Thai government aims for 100 per cent recyclable plastic to be in common use by 2027.

Thailand yesterday reported six new infections and no new deaths, bringing its total to 3,141 confirmed Covid-19 cases, including 58 fatalities. It has recorded no new local transmission for 24 days in a row.


Elsewhere in the region, Malaysia recorded 14 new cases yesterday, bringing the total number of infections to 8,529. The death toll remains at 121.

Indonesia reported 1,331 new infections yesterday, its biggest daily increase since the outbreak started, taking its total number of cases to 42,762.

Health Ministry official Achmad Yurianto said 63 more deaths were reported, with total fatalities now at 2,339.

It is the highest death toll in East Asia outside of China. - AFP, REUTERS