Thai consumers revive anti-plastic campaign

Environmentally minded netizens across Thailand unofficially relaunched a responsible-tourism campaign Thursday, encouraging people to reduce waste even when staying at home.

The hashtag #อยู่บ้านก็ลดโลกเลอะ, or “reduce pollution from home”, went to number one trending in Thailand late Thursday, thanks largely to the fan club and advocacy of a local celebrity, Palitchoke “Peck” Ayanaputra.

Peck is an ambassador for the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and has one million followers on Twitter.

TAT last year launched a campaign to encourage people to use less plastic and avoid food waste when travelling or at home.

This included traveling with your own cutlery, food storage and drinking glass and using cloth tote bags instead of single-use plastics.

Some netizens are comparing last year’s campaign to the current situation where people living in 28 highly controlled provinces are encouraged to work from home until the end of January to reduce the spread of the second wave of the coronavirus.

The Thailand Environment Institute (TEI) has warned that Thailand’s plastic waste increased by 15 per cent from 5,500 tons per day to 6,300 tons per day during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

That rate decreased slightly after the first wave, indicating that it had been due to the increase in food delivery to people at home, TEI President Wijarn Simachaya said. This meant they were concerned it would pick up again under the current wave of infections, he said.

The Kasikorn Research Center said food delivery had increased by 78 to 84 per cent year-on-year in 2020 with more than 66 million deliveries during the year.

The Thailand Development Research Institute estimated that each delivery normally results in the use of at least seven single-use plastic items, namely the container, the bag for sauce, plastic spoon and fork and its bag, the bag for soup and the bigger bag to hold everything together.

The TEI also said that throwing away masks had also contributed to the increase in plastic waste with 1.5 to two million pieces being thrown away every day.

TEI’s Wijarn this week said that the new wave of the outbreak that came with the work-from-home model and the rapid growth of food delivery is contributing 550 million more pieces of plastic waste per year than in the pre-covid period.

He said the country’s roadmap must be enforced now to ban single-use plastic bags thinner than 36 microns, foam containers, single use plastic cups and plastic straws.

He said the efforts to cut single-use plastic must be supported by the reduce, reuse and recycle and the BCG model (bioeconomy, circular economy and green economy) so that it can be economically sustainable as well.

Food delivery providers are also encouraged to come up with programmes to reduce plastic waste. For example, Grab is coming up with a campaign to encourage their partner shops to use 3 million more environmentally friendly containers and cutlery. They expected at least 500 shops in Bangkok and other metropolitan areas to join their campaign.

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