Commentary: What can Southeast Asia do about all this COVID-19 waste?

For the last couple of years, virtually every news feed or broadcast has included images of mask-clad people or health workers suited up as protection from COVID-19. 

While the images might be ephemeral, those masks and personal protective equipment (PPE), along with used test kits and discarded vaccine syringes, are very real. 

They eventually have to be disposed of and that is causing a problem across Asia, contributing substantially to the cost that the COVID-19 crisis has already generated.

A recent report from the World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that 87,000 tonnes of PPE were delivered by the United Nations globally between March 2020 and November 2021. Concerns are that the vast majority of the mainly plastic-based outfits and protective supplies will end up as waste.

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JJ Rose