Food delivery adds to plastic waste


Images adapted from: ASEAN Economic Community Strategy Center and The Thaiger

Food delivery services make daily routines very convenient for those without time or skills to cook. Plastic waste piling up, however, is an inconvenient truth.


Thailand was warming up to greener pastures


Image credit: International Affairs Office Bangkok Metropolitan Administration

Even before the outbreak, asking for no plastic with your food was too much trouble. In some cases, people protested being charged for convenience.

At the start of this year, most supermarkets, retailers, and convenience stores started banning and charging extra for shoppers who don’t bring their own bags. This forced people to use reusable bags or get creative while shopping. Without convenience, people could hopefully think twice before wasting resources.


Deliveries caused spike in plastic use amid outbreak 


Image credit: Bangkok Post

The outbreak caused businesses to close doors or adapt to online platforms. Restaurants moved to food delivery services when dining-in was no longer an option.

Food delivery jobs became more popular during the outbreak due to safety measures forcing people to stay at home. Naturally, many turned to ordering food, to the point where some decided to become a delivery rider to make ends meet.

The problem is that not every restaurant uses biodegradable foam or paper bags for their packaging. Some wrap layers of plastic to make sure the food does not spill. 

Customers can request no plastic cutlery but they’re often included regardless. Also, ordering food from home means you can’t use your own container. All in all, using plastic is nearly unavoidable when ordering food from home.

A 2018 infographic of Thailand’s plastic waste statistics, with 2 million being plastic and only 5 hundred thousand being recyclable
Image credit: Mahidol University, Faculty of Science

We have a persistent problem with plastic waste, and this problem is getting worse during self-isolation as orders pile up for food delivery services.

Plastic takes a very long time to degrade, so remember to use biodegradables whenever possible and get only what you need. If you must order food, ask the delivery rider to ensure that no plastic utensils are included in your order. You can even check with the restaurant about the packaging before ordering.

Let’s help not just ourselves but also the environment during this time.


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