SAMUT PRAKAN, Thailand: With an abundance of plastic waste but a scarcity of personal protective equipment (PPE), Thailand is turning trash into treasure by upcycling bottles into protective clothing for people at risk of COVID-19 infection.
Millions of plastic bottles have been collected, shredded and turned into threads to be woven into fabrics eventually used for PPE, either for hospitals or Buddhist temples, where monks have been cremating coronavirus victims.
The effort comes as Thailand has recorded more than 1.1 million coronavirus infections and 12,000 deaths since April this year.
“There are times where it is very difficult to get hold of PPE suits, sometimes even if you have money, you can’t buy,” said Phra Maha Pranom Dhammalangkaro, abbott of Chakdaeng temple in Samut Prakan province near Bangkok.
“But now we’re making it out of upcycling plastic bottles, so what’s trash is now valuable.”
Temple volunteers have been sewing orange PPE suits for monks, undertakers and scavengers, and PPE are being sent to thousands of temples in need across the country.
Though these are not medical-grade, they provide at least some protection for those potentially exposed to COVID-19, and one PPE suit can be made using only 18 plastic bottles.