Positive response to Thailand’s “Everyday Say No to Plastic Bags” campaign
The positive public response to end of shopping malls, department and convenience stores distributing single-use plastic bags, as of January 1st, is a huge New Year’s gift to Thailand and the world, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varavuth Silpa-archa said today (Thursday).
Accompanied by the ministry’s permanent secretary, Mr. Jatuporn Burutpat, Mr. Varavuth conducted a field trip to meet with people to gauge their response to the campaign, called “Everyday Say No to Plastic Bags”, launched by his ministry in cooperation with the private sector.
He told the media that public response to the campaign was quite enthusiastic and the private sector, including 75 companies, have been very cooperative, although it may not be as convenient for their customers.
He said that consumers had started to change their habits by refusing to accept single-use plastic bags or bringing their own bags to carry their shopping, adding that next the ministry will consult with the Education Ministry to educate students from kindergarten level about environmental concerns.
Thai PBS reporters, in a random survey of stores, have found that some offer degradable plastic bags or cotton bags to customers who did not have their own bags.
Since the launch of the campaign in 2019, Thailand managed to reduce single-use plastic bags by more than 2 billion, or by 5.7 million kilogrammes, worth about 400 million baht.
Dr. Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a well-known marine scientist and vice dean of the Faculty of Fisheries at Kasetsart University, says that he is very satisfied with the campaign.
50% of all plastic waste found in the oceans are single-use plastic bags.
When asked about the next step in Thailand’s war on single-use plastics, Dr. Thon said “this year we are going to push for a law against single-use plastics. At the moment, 127 of 192 countries worldwide have enacted single-use plastics legislation. Hopefully, our single-use plastics law will pass next year. Every country started by eliminating the use of single-use plastic bags, because they can be replaced by fabric or paper. Meanwhile, clear plastic bags for food are quite difficult to eliminate, since there is no suitable alternative”
He said that, although the campaign has received positive response, the MOU with private companies is not legally enforceable and can be terminated at anytime. If, however, we have the single-use plastics law, it will be enforceable throughout the country.