Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Surge in plastic waste frustrates Thai activist

Surge in plastic waste frustrates Thai activist

Surge in plastic waste frustrates Thai activist

It as been months since Thailand’s former national windsurfer and environmentalist Amara Wichithong last paddled her stand-up board and collected trash from a creek connecting the residential area where she lives to the sea.

The 57-year old runs a windsurfing shop in the famed seaside resort town of Pattaya. With a passion for protecting the environment, she has become somewhat of a local green hero.

For years, Amara and her team of volunteers have picked plastic trash from local waters and mangrove forests to prevent it from ending in the ocean. But their work has been halted since March amid restrictions to contain the coronavirus.

Amara is worried about a spike in plastic waste from more food and goods deliveries as people stay at home will make matters worse.

I worry that after the Covid-19 [pandemic], I would imagine that the sea will be filled with trash,” Amara said.

The amount of plastic waste generated during the coronavirus lockdown has surged by 15 per cent in Thailand, local media reported, citing the Pollution Control Department.

Thailand, among the world’s top five countries choking the oceans with plastic, has sought to clamp down on single-use plastic bags this year.

Amara said she had been collecting trash more “seriously” over the past 20 years, having started picking up rubbish at just 10 years of age.

“The [trash] situation got worse in the past five years, where we see turtles and marine animals dying ashore. I felt like I had to do something about this,” she said.

In addition to picking up trash from local waters, Amara and her team have also installed a net made from fishermen’s net scrap in the creek to prevent waste from flowing into the sea while leaving gaping holes for fish to swim through.

While a slowdown in economic activity amid the virus has helped curb pollution, experts worry the effects will be short-lived and offset by some fallout from the strict lockdowns.

Bangkok’s plastic waste has soared 62 per cent in volume last month, as more people rely on home deliveries, data from the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration shows.

“There are both pros and cons of the new normal. The pro is that people are aware of how great nature is without trash, we have more sightings of rare marine animals which make them cherish nature more,” marine biology expert Thon Thamrongnawasawat said.

The other new normal is the plastic waste from food deliveries that “will continue to and definitely increase in amount” even after the outbreak is over, said Thon.


  • Without shoes or a helmet, a young cyclist steals the show

    Pech Theara gripped the curved handlebars of his rusty old bike, planted his bare feet on its pedals and stormed as fast as he could towards the finish line. The odds were against him as the 13-year-old faced off against kids with nicer bikes at

  • Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway on schedule

    The construction of the more than $1.9 billion Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway has not been delayed despite the Covid-19 pandemic, with more than 26 per cent of the project completed and expected to finish in about two years, according to Ministry of Public Works and Transport secretary of

  • Over 110 garment factories close

    A government official said on November 22 that at least 110 garment factories had closed in the first nine months of the year and left more than 55,000 workers without jobs – but union leaders worry those numbers could be much higher. Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training undersecretary

  • Singapore group seeks $14M in damages from PPSP over ‘breach of contract’

    Singapore-based Asiatic Group (Holdings) Ltd is seeking a minimum of $14.4 million relief from Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX)-listed Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone Plc (PPSP) for allegedly breaching a power plant joint venture (JV) agreement. Asiatic Group’s wholly-owned Colben System Pte Ltd and 95 per

  • PM vows to protect Hun family

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has vowed to continue his fight against opposition politicians who he said intend to smash the Hun family. Without naming the politicians but apparently referring to former leaders of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Hun Sen said there

  • Cambodia lauded for fight against Covid-19

    Cambodia has drawn global accolades for its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, with a new report finding that the Kingdom has controlled the pandemic better than any other country in Asia. Dr Takeshi Kasai, director of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Western Pacific region,