COVID-19 impact on household food and plastic waste generation in Bangkok

In Sustainability 2021
Volume (Issue): 13(16), 8988
Peer-reviewed Article

The crisis ignited by COVID-19 has transformed the volume and composition of waste generation and requires a dynamic response from policy makers. This study selected Bangkok as a case study to semi-quantitatively examine the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on consumer-generated food and plastic waste by examining changes in lifestyles and consumption behaviour through a face-to-face questionnaire survey. Travel bans and diminished economic activity due to COVID-19 have led to a dramatic reduction in waste from the business sector and in the total amount of municipal waste generated. However, the results of the survey showed that both food and plastic waste generated by households in Bangkok increased during COVID-19. The shift from eating out to online food delivery services led to an increase in plastic bags, hot-and-cold food bags, plastic food containers, and food waste. Reasons for the increase in household food waste during COVID-19 varied, with respondents citing excessive amounts of food and unappetising taste, followed by exceeding the expiration date and rotting/foul odours. These reasons may be the result of the inability to predict quantity and quality when ordering online, and inadequate food planning and management by consumers. To achieve more effective food and plastic waste management, home delivery services, consumer food planning and management, and the formation of a circular economy based on localised supply chains may be considered as important intervention points.

Pongsun Bunditsakulchai
Qiannan Zhuo