Amid the ongoing battle against the coronavirus pandemic, Asian countries are now struggling with a new problem… plastic pollution.
In China, plastic waste from meal delivery services has surged as more people are choosing to eat in. One environmental group says a typical order uses three-point-two-seven plastic food containers. Chinese media report that more than 120 million containers a day are being used for meals ordered through one major catering app alone.
Facing a similar problem, the South Korean government has started taking action. Some 10,000 personnel are being dispatched to garbage-collection sites at housing complexes nationwide to give advice on trash separation to maximize plastic waste recycling.
Plastic waste is not the only issue. The number of trash receptacles for the disposal of used masks is also rising. In Thailand, such receptacles are widely available at public facilities.
A woman who came to throw away her mask said “This is a good way for both people using masks and those collecting trash to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection.”
Used masks are collected, along with medical waste, at dedicated disposal sites where they are incinerated at high temperature to minimize the release of toxic smoke.
In order to safely collect and dispose of such refuse, a mobile app is being used on a trial basis to share information on the volume and location of medical waste.
Sitang Kongkratoke, Lecturer at Mae Fah Luang University said, “It helps us to know the source and the amount of infectious waste. And then we know where we have to install disposal or treatment areas.”
Public health experts say countries need to work together to find ways to improve the situation.