Impact of COVID-19 on consumers' single-use plastic consumption and policy recommendations – Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia and China.


The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increased demand for SUPs that intensified pressure on an already out-of-control global plastic pollution. Asian cities are hotspots for tackling plastic issues for a number of reasons such as extensive coastline; rapid urbanization, rapid economic and population growth; fast growing of urban middle class, consumer goods and services; poor waste management and recycling system as well as tourism and etc.). Many reduction targets are set at the global/national level and several countries have issued bans on specific plastic products. For example, the Thai government announced the ambitious goal of 100% recycling of plastic by 2027 and the ban of four types of single use plastics (thin plastic bags, thin plastic glasses, Styrofoam food containers, and plastic straws) by the end of 2022 in the “Plastic Waste Management Road Map (2018 –2030)” in 2019. However, progress has been hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic with our previous studies showing that both food and plastic waste generated by households in Bangkok increased due to rising patterns of food delivery as well as for hygiene reasons. Moreover, plastic issues are an integral part of consumers' daily lives and cannot be fundamentally solved without a change in consumer behavior. However, there are very few studies on consumers in the consumption phase in Asian developing countries, which is one of the reasons for us to focus on consumers. In order to evaluate policy options to reduce SUPs in Asian countries towards CE, SDGs, PA, and green recovery, it is important not only to understand the consumers’ situation and reasons behind SUPs generation, but to bridge the gap between consumers’ behavior and local/national as well as global agendas. To do this, (1) firstly we conducted a cross-sectional questionnaire survey to capture people’ lifestyle changes before and during the pandemic, and to clarify the “scenes” and reasons for consumers’ SUPs generation as well as the enabling condition among the stakeholders & local community. This helps to gain insight into the deciding factors for behaviour change. (2) secondly, we estimated the current state and tendency of PW and MSW generation based on official data and interviews with experts/government officers; this also helps to set up the baselines, and (3) thirdly we reviewed the relevant policies and action plans that have been put in place, to provide further policy implications based on the local context.