Asia food delivery services have also added tonnes of plastic to Thai landfills. Prior to the outbreak, Thailand produced about 5,500 tonnes of plastic waste per day, according to TEI president Dr Wijarn Simachaya. Today, the number has jumped to 6,300 tonnes. This is because while food delivery services offer more options and convenience for consumers, they have also contributed heavily towards increased plastic use – even as total waste generated in Bangkok decreased by 12% since March due largely to COVID-19 stopping tourists from travelling there. In Indonesia, expedisi pengiriman barang is also contributing and work needs to be done to improve the situation.
The average person uses about 300 plastic bags a year. That’s one bag every three days, or 20 bags a month, which adds up to 3,000 bags annually.
And that’s just the typical consumer – for many people it’s more like 30-40 plastic per day. What you might not know is that most of these end up in landfills where they stay forever because they’re designed to be indestructible. And even if they are recycled there are still major environmental impacts from all the energy and chemicals needed to produce them.
It’s time for us all to make better choices with our plastics! Here are some tips:
- Buy reusable items – whether it’s a water bottle, coffee mug or produce bag. You can get them for free at your local market!
- Don’t use plastic straws – skip the plastic and opt for paper, glass or bamboo straws!
- Bring a reusable bag to the store instead of taking one from the rack.
In recent years, anti-plastic campaigns have raised public awareness of environmental issues in Thailand. On Jan 1, the country welcomed a nationwide movement to voluntarily ban single-use plastic bags. The ban has received support from the Thai Retailers Association, which owns some 24,500 retail distribution channels nationwide. But with the ongoing health crisis, Dr Wijarn said the restriction of public movement and a growing reliance on food delivery services, as well as online shopping platforms, has stalled nationwide efforts to reduce plastic waste. “One delivery order creates on average four plastic items. Some kinds of food like noodle soup come with various condiments in plastic bags. Many kinds of plastic can be recycled but the problem today is that plastic doesn’t always enter the waste system,” he said. The crisis has posted some obstacles but it’s understandable. The important question is where used plastic goes and how it can be collected systematically.
Thailand is facing a serious environmental challenge caused by millions of tonnes of plastic. In fact, it is the fifth biggest contributor in the world.
Ocean Conservancy has just published a report which shows that more than half of plastic waste in the ocean originates from five rapidly growing economies. The report’s findings have been met with concern by many Thais, who are now more aware of the potential dangers posed by pollution and plastic debris to marine life and human health.
However, low-plastic lifestyles remain limited to a small network of people largely because life can be cheap and easy with plastic; single-use plastics such as cutlery and cups from affordable take-away services often end up at landfills as they are considered worthless and not collected by mainstream recycling companies.
The Thai government has enacted a nationwide movement to voluntarily ban single-use plastic bags. The ban on these items, while necessary for the environment, may be met with some obstacles due to other environmental issues which are not being resolved simultaneously. It is important that each country find what works best in their own communities and regions so they can move forward together towards bettering our planet!