MANILA— If you've been ordering more takeout food since the onset of the pandemic, chances are most of your meals come in plastic food packs.
But did you know that while you may be avoiding the coronavirus by staying in and ordering food, your delivery may also pose hazards to your health?
Some 12,000 chemicals are used in making food contact materials (FCMs) or containers used for food, according to the Unwrapped Project, an initiative that aims to prompt action against the use of plastic food packaging, citing dangers found by international toxicology and environmental health
experts."When consuming food and beverage [in plastic packaging], people are exposed to chemicals... Around 1,200 peer-reviewed studies demonstrate clearly that these chemicals migrate to food we consume, and a large part of the population are exposed to these chemicals," said Miriam Gordon, Policy Director at UPSTREAM, a North American non-profit advocating for systemic changes to fight plastic pollution.
HOSPITALS USE PLASTIC FOOD PACKS MORE DURING PANDEMIC
Paeng Lopez, Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Southeast Asia Plastics in Health Care Project Officer, noted that even hospitals have been using more single-use plastic food packs during the pandemic for fear of infection when using reusable ones.
This is on top of the higher amount of non-biodegradable waste hospitals are generating with the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and face masks.
"Because of the fear of infection in hospitals, what they're using now predominantly are disposable plastic," said Lopez, who is also the group's Sustainable Health in Procurement Project Philippine Coordinator.
"They send food to patients throughout hospitals packed in disposal materials, diposable utensils. There’s a lot of single-use plastic waste on top of the surging single-use PPEs," he said.
He cited a "bright ray of hope" as the Department of Health is already drafting a memorandum to address plastic pollution in hospitals.
There is also an ongoing waste audit in several major hospitals to determine the impact of the pandemic on the amount and kind of waste being generated in such facilities.
"We are still running the numbers as data from other hospitals have not been completed yet, but the trend is that for essential plastics, masks are at the top, and for non-essential plastics, it would be utensils and water bottles," he said.