SEOUL, Sept. 4 (Korea Bizwire) — Following a strict imposition of social distancing as the coronavirus sweeps across South Korea, people are throwing away increased amounts of plastic waste.
The Ministry of Environment temporarily approved the use of disposable materials at restaurants, cafes, and fast food chains in airports and train stations in February to avoid use of non-disposable products that are more prone to becoming proxies to the pandemic spread.
As people are spending more time at home, the amount of disposable materials used for online shopping or food deliveries is also increasing.
As cafes and nighttime restaurants in the Greater Seoul Metropolitan Area are only allowed to deliver food, and not accept dine-in patrons starting on August 30, the second wave of the ‘waste crisis’ may be just around the corner.
Customers asking for plastic cups at cafes were afraid of using non-disposable ones due to the risk of infection.
“I just can’t believe they enough time to keep the mugs clean during lunchtime, which is probably the busiest time for them,” a local office worker said. “I feel safer just using plastic cups, especially when the coronavirus is still out there.”
Experts, however, argue that plastic cups and other disposable products aren’t necessarily ‘cleaner’ than non-disposable ones.
“The risk of infection at restaurants is more prevalent when using doorknobs, tables, and other shared items that aren’t regularly cleaned. Cups and dishes are less of a risk,” said Dr. Choo Hye-in from Seoul National University Hospital.
“Cups and dishes that are properly rinsed and dried have almost zero chance of spreading the virus.”
H. M. Kang (firstname.lastname@example.org)