I have just returned from India, where I went to see my ailing father. I am currently housed in a hotel for the 14-day stay-home notice period, and am shocked at the colossal amount of waste being generated every day.
The three daily meals are served in plastic boxes with juice, yogurt or milk cartons and a plastic bag.
Water is served in plastic bottles, tea is in tea bags and coffee is available in sachets. Disposable cutlery is given with every meal.
All the plastic waste generated is disposed of together, with no mechanism to segregate waste that is relatively easier to recycle - such as plastic bottles - from other types of waste like multi-layer flexible packaging that is not as easy to recycle.
If an individual consumes all meals with a cup of tea or coffee every day, this would amount to around 2.7kg of waste in 14 days, 40 per cent higher than the global average.
Food waste is another issue as not everyone eats all the food that has been given.
This is enormously wasteful and unnecessary.
With careful planning, there is an opportunity for all hotels to easily reduce their plastic and food waste footprint through reduction/reusing/recycling.
If, for example, the hotels provide one plastic or paper bag instead of three plastic bags a day, provide disposable cutlery only once a week, which hotel guests are asked to reuse, and create a mechanism for segregated disposal, at least for the big items so these can be recycled, the plastic footprint generated during quarantine for an individual could be easily halved.
To reduce food waste, hotel guests should be allowed to opt out of some of the additional items that come with the food packets, including juice boxes and yogurt cups.
In the last 10 days, I have stopped eating dinner, ordered planet-friendly meals from outlets that provide more eco-friendly packaging (although I have to keep in mind the emissions from transportation), and reused items or actively refused some items so I can minimise the amount that goes to waste.
To achieve Singapore's Green Plan, we need a whole-of-nation approach, and that means all of us must do our bit.
Hotels that are quarantining hundreds of individuals have an important role to play.