A spate of wildlife fatalities in Thailand caused by plastic pollution has raised the alarm on plastic waste management and disposal in the kingdom, as well as putting the focus on the banning of single-use plastic bags from Jan 1, 2020.
In June last year, a dead pilot whale was found with eight kilos of plastic rubbish while early this year, a baby dugong named Marium died from a stomach infection caused by the ingestion of plastic.
And just last month, a dead deer at Khun Sathan National Park was found with seven kilos of plastic waste in its stomach.
A marine biologist from Kasetsart University, Thon Thamrongnawasawat, said about 300 marine species die every year in Thailand due to plastic debris.
According to Thailand’s Pollution Control Department (PCD), an average of 7,000 tonnes of plastic and foam waste is produced in the country daily.
In a bid to reduce plastic waste, major Thai department stores, supermarkets and convenience stores in the country will stop giving out single-use plastic bags from Jan 1.
A total of 43 companies including CP ALL Pcl, which operates more than 10,000 7-Eleven convenience stores in Thailand, and the country’s largest retailer Central Group, will be playing their parts to cut down on plastic bags.
The 7-Eleven convenience stores only provide plastic bags to customers upon request while some 137 stores have already stopped providing plastic bags from last month as part of a trial before the ban comes into force in January.
This has successfully reduced about 991.85 million plastic bags this year and saved about 198.3 million baht (US$6.6 million) as of Dec 29.
Under the Plastic Waste Management Road Map 2018-2030, Thailand will ban the use of lightweight plastic bags less than 36 microns thick, styrofoam food packagings, single-use plastic cups and straws by 2022, and aims for a 100-per cent recycled plastic waste target by 2027.
The PCD said the department is working closely with plastics industry players to find alternative materials to replace plastic, as well as looking into the possibility of turning plastic waste into energy.
College student, Nattapol Pimpat, 25, said consumers must break their addiction to plastic.
“Plastic bag is convenient but it will kill marine life and disrupt the human food chain…It is not just a government or corporate responsibility but (that of) civil society, and citizens must play their parts voluntary,” he told Bernama.
Animal feed seller, Benchawan Kamta, 38, suggested the imposition of plastic bag tax and charging consumers for plastic bags.
She said the government should build more trash bank (waste bank) in the neighborhood where locals could ‘deposit’ the waste in exchange for money.
“This will reduce the pressure on the landfill sites,” she said.