Thailand to phase out plastic bags in retail by 2021

Thailand kicked off the new year with a ban on single-use plastic bags at major stores, continuing a campaign launched by the government and retailers towards a complete ban in 2021 to reduce plastic waste to which the country is one of the world’s largest contributors, particularly to maritime waste.

As agreed, 75 department stores, as well as convenience stores and other shops with together more than 24,500 branches nationwide have agreed to do end handing out free plastic bags from January 1 and partly replace them with paper bags or reusable bags which can be purchased for a few baht.

Public awareness of the risk to animals and the environment from such waste was raised last year in a series of incidents where animals including a deer and a baby dugong were found dead with plastics in their digestive systems.

“Thailand ranks sixth among the world’s top countries that dump waste into the sea,” minister of natural resources and environment Varawut Silpa-Archa told reporters on January 1 after handing out reusable bags to the public.

The ministry says the country already reduced the use of plastic bags by two billion, or about 5,765 tonnes, last year, in the first phase of campaign to encourage consumers’ voluntarily refusal of plastic bags from stores.

27 million tonnes of plastic waste per year

In comparison, it is estimated that Thai consumers get through 700,000 tonnes of polystyrene for food containers per year, 1.72 million tonnes of plastic cups and straws, together with 1.17 million tonnes of plastic bags. They also produce around 1.13 kilogrammes of waste per day per head, which adds up to around 27 million tonnes of waste per year.

Meanwhile, Thailand’s Pollution Control Department is following its 20 year-action plan on plastic waste management from 2018 to 2037, which includes measures to stop Thais using seven plastic items and types.

Those are cap seals, oxo-degradable plastic, microbeads, plastic bags of less than 36 micron thickness (widely known as single-use plastic bags), polystyrene-made food containers, plastic cups and straws.

Plastic producers unhappy

However, not everybody is happy about the no-plastic campaign which turned into a nightmare scenario for plastic manufacturers, who claimed they stand to make huge losses as a result of the ban.

The Thai Plastic Industry Association claims that the ban will seriously hurt small and medium-sized manufacturers unable to make production adjustments. According to the association, there are around 500 plastic manufacturing plants nationwide with over 8,000 employees. A sharp drop in the number of orders as a result of the ban will almost certainly mean job losses in the near future and damage to the industry estimated at 30 billion baht (around $1 billion) per year.



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Thailand kicked off the new year with a ban on single-use plastic bags at major stores, continuing a campaign launched by the government and retailers towards a complete ban in 2021 to reduce plastic waste to which the country is one of the world’s largest contributors, particularly to maritime waste. As agreed, 75 department stores, as well as convenience stores and other shops with together more than 24,500 branches nationwide have agreed to do end handing out free plastic bags from January 1 and partly replace them with paper bags or reusable bags which can be purchased for a few...

Thailand kicked off the new year with a ban on single-use plastic bags at major stores, continuing a campaign launched by the government and retailers towards a complete ban in 2021 to reduce plastic waste to which the country is one of the world’s largest contributors, particularly to maritime waste.

As agreed, 75 department stores, as well as convenience stores and other shops with together more than 24,500 branches nationwide have agreed to do end handing out free plastic bags from January 1 and partly replace them with paper bags or reusable bags which can be purchased for a few baht.

Public awareness of the risk to animals and the environment from such waste was raised last year in a series of incidents where animals including a deer and a baby dugong were found dead with plastics in their digestive systems.

“Thailand ranks sixth among the world’s top countries that dump waste into the sea,” minister of natural resources and environment Varawut Silpa-Archa told reporters on January 1 after handing out reusable bags to the public.

The ministry says the country already reduced the use of plastic bags by two billion, or about 5,765 tonnes, last year, in the first phase of campaign to encourage consumers’ voluntarily refusal of plastic bags from stores.

27 million tonnes of plastic waste per year

In comparison, it is estimated that Thai consumers get through 700,000 tonnes of polystyrene for food containers per year, 1.72 million tonnes of plastic cups and straws, together with 1.17 million tonnes of plastic bags. They also produce around 1.13 kilogrammes of waste per day per head, which adds up to around 27 million tonnes of waste per year.

Meanwhile, Thailand’s Pollution Control Department is following its 20 year-action plan on plastic waste management from 2018 to 2037, which includes measures to stop Thais using seven plastic items and types.

Those are cap seals, oxo-degradable plastic, microbeads, plastic bags of less than 36 micron thickness (widely known as single-use plastic bags), polystyrene-made food containers, plastic cups and straws.

Plastic producers unhappy

However, not everybody is happy about the no-plastic campaign which turned into a nightmare scenario for plastic manufacturers, who claimed they stand to make huge losses as a result of the ban.

The Thai Plastic Industry Association claims that the ban will seriously hurt small and medium-sized manufacturers unable to make production adjustments. According to the association, there are around 500 plastic manufacturing plants nationwide with over 8,000 employees. A sharp drop in the number of orders as a result of the ban will almost certainly mean job losses in the near future and damage to the industry estimated at 30 billion baht (around $1 billion) per year.



Support ASEAN news

Investvine has been a consistent voice in ASEAN news for more than a decade. From breaking news to exclusive interviews with key ASEAN leaders, we have brought you factual and engaging reports – the stories that matter, free of charge.

Like many news organisations, we are striving to survive in an age of reduced advertising and biased journalism. Our mission is to rise above today’s challenges and chart tomorrow’s world with clear, dependable reporting.

Support us now with a donation of your choosing. Your contribution will help us shine a light on important ASEAN stories, reach more people and lift the manifold voices of this dynamic, influential region.

$
Personal Info

Donation Total: $10.00

 

 

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