Zero waste

Forum: Plastic use still growing unchecked

There has been a surge in the use of plastic products such as containers, utensils and bags due to the rise in demand for food delivery and takeaways.
There has been a surge in the use of plastic products such as containers, utensils and bags due to the rise in demand for food delivery and takeaways.ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

Singapore's zero-waste masterplan highlights a target of sending 30 per cent less waste to Semakau Landfill by 2030. This vision requires everyone in Singapore, from industries to households and individuals, to work together.

While the Covid-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of our lives, our reliance on plastic remains the same.

In fact, there has been a surge in the use of plastic products such as containers, utensils and bags due to the rise in demand for food delivery and takeaways.

A study found that takeaway and delivery meals generated an additional 1,334 tonnes of plastic waste during the two-month circuit breaker period.

The environmental impact of plastic waste should not be taken lightly, and there are some ways to tackle this.

• Plastic containers are hard to avoid in food delivery, but platforms such as GrabFood and Foodpanda could offer incentives to encourage consumers to opt out of receiving plastic cutlery. For example, they could include the cost of the cutlery in the initial price, and reduce it by 20 cents should the customer opt not to request for plastic cutlery.

• Supermarkets could limit the number of free plastic bags given based on the number of items purchased. For example, they can give a customer only two free bags if he purchases no more than 10 items, and charge for subsequent plastic bags.

• People often find it troublesome to take with them reusable containers which would have to be cleaned after each use. Food delivery platforms have partnered firms such as Muuse and BarePack to provide customers with reusable food containers at an affordable rate.

Heng Jiayi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 31, 2020, with the headline 'Plastic use still growing unchecked'. Print Edition | Subscribe