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Thailand Plastic Piles Up After Covid-19 Lockdown

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Thailand Plastic Piles Up After Covid-19 Lockdown | Samui Times
A woman looks through recycling bags on April 21, 2020 in New York City. Green groups worry about plastic 'onslaught' in Southeast Asia (AFP/Angela Weiss)
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Look around Koh Samui or any other place in Thailand and it is obvious that post Covid-19 lockdown, the war on plastic is losing. After beginning the year with a ban on single-use plastic bags, many find it difficult to cook when they are now being forced to work full-time from home.

Ordering take away food hasn’t helped with plastic waste as numbers soared by 62 percent in April.

“There is so much bubble wrap and product packaging, or bags and containers from food deliveries,” said Nicha, 27, an avid online shopper in Bangkok.

Even if the pandemic eases, environmentalists fear Thailand is simply a pointer for the situation elsewhere in Southeast Asia, home to four of the world’s top five plastic polluters of the ocean. The biggest is China.

As much as 3,432 tons of plastic was thrown away in the Thai capital each day in April, up from last year’s average of 2,115 tons, city data shows. Contaminated items, from takeaway bags to containers, bottles and cups, made up more than 80%.

Thailand’s experience serves as a warning for the region, said Wijarn Simachaya, president of the Thailand Environment Institute, a think tank.

“The large increase is very concerning,” Wijarn told Reuters. “What progress we’ve made on the campaign against single-use plastic has gone back to square one.”

Despite a smaller pile of general waste as the lockdown halted businesses, Thailand, which usually generates about 2 million tons of plastic waste annually, is likely to see a surge of 30% nationwide this year, Wijarn added.

Top polluter China and the Southeast Asian nations of Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, account for more than half of plastic pollution in the ocean, Ocean Conservancy said in 2015.

Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa acknowledged a setback in the fight on plastic waste, but said he remained hopeful Thailand could still regain lost ground.

In Samui, community efforts are still ongoing as organizations like Trash Hero continue the fight against pollution on the island.

 

SOURCE: The Jakarta Post

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