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.

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom's Covid cluster cases jump to 194

    The Ministry of Health on February 25 confirmed 65 new cases of Covid-19, with 58 linked to the February 20 community transmission. The latest cluster cases include nine Vietnamese nationals, five Cambodians, one each from Korea, Singapore and Japan, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total number

  • Locations shut, dozens more Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health has closed 23 locations in connection with the February 20 community transmission of Covid-19 and summoned for testing anyone who had direct contact with affected people and places. The number of discovered related infections has risen to 76, including 39 women. In a press release,

  • Cambodia's Covid cluster cases rise to 137

    The Ministry of Health on February 24 recorded 40 more cases of Covid-19, with 38 linked to the February 20 community transmission. Of the 40, two are imported cases involving Chinese passengers. The 38 include two Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total cases

  • Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

    The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said

  • PM confirms third Covid-19 community transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on February 20 announced the Kingdom's third outbreak of Covid-19 community transmission after 32 people tested positive in just over 10 hours. Addressing the public from his residence after an emergency meeting, Hun Sen said: "I dub it February 20 Community Event, in which 32 cases

  • Cambodia to make auto-rickshaws

    Locally-assembled electric auto-rickshaws could hit the Cambodian market as soon as early in May after the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) gave the greenlight to an investment project at the weekend. According to a CDC press release, it will issue a final registration