With an abundance of plastic waste but a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), Thailand is upcycling bottles into protective clothing for persons who are at risk of coronavirus infection.
Thousands of plastic bottles have been collected, crushed, and turned into threads that will be weaved into fabrics for personal protection equipment (PPE) in hospitals and Buddhist temples where coronavirus victims have been cremated.
Thailand has recorded over 1.1 million coronavirus infections and 12,000 deaths since April of 2021.
“Getting PPE suits can be difficult at times, even if you have money,” said Phra Maha Pranom Dhammalangkaro, abbot of Chakdaeng temple in Bangkok's Samut Prakan province.
However, because it is made from repurposed plastic bottles, what was once trash has become valuable.
Thousands of temples across the country are receiving orange PPE suits for monks, undertakers, and scavengers, stitched by temple volunteers.
Although not medical-grade, they provide some protection to people who may be affected by COVID-19, and one PPE suit may be made out of only 18 plastic bottles.
Fabric for the PPEs was given by a textile mill in Rayong province, which is frequently utilized by major global companies. Threads made from recycled bottles are spun into a large roll at the plant and then sewn into the water-resistant fabric.
“This is to keep particle dust out and the virus out,” said Arnuphap Chompuming, head of sales and marketing at Thai Taffeta, a textile manufacturer situated east of Bangkok.
He highlighted that 18 million plastic bottles have been used to make fabric for personal protective equipment (PPEs) that have been distributed to hospitals around the country since the middle of last year.
According to the Chakdaeng temple abbot, the upcycling operation is helpful in ensuring that more people, not just medical professionals, are protected against the coronavirus.