BANGKOK, Thailand, April 27, 2013 (ENS) - The Thai government has a new program that encourages shoppers to reduce the number of plastic bags they use by one bag per person per day.
Studies have found that Thais use eight plastic bags per person per day, according to the government news agency, National News Bureau of Thailand.
This amounts to an estimated 500 million plastic bags used in Thailand every day if all 67 million people in the country are taken into account.
Because they litter Thai lands and waters, clog up landfills and harm wildlife, the Department of Environmental Quality Promotion is asking each member of the public to reduce their use of plastic bags by just one bag a day.
Department Chief Chatuphon Burutphat said his agency is collaborating with the CP All Public Company Limited to promote a reduction in the use of plastic bags.
CP ALL Public Company, formerly known as CP Seven Eleven Public Company Limited, is the flagship company of the Charoen Pokphand Group's marketing and distribution business. It operates 5,790 convenience stores under the 7-Eleven trademark in Thailand - the third largest number of stores worldwide, after the United States and Japan.
CP ALL Public shoppers will be encouraged to decline a plastic bag when they purchase fewer than two items from shops, and also encouraged to reduce the number of plastic bags they use each time they go shopping.
Chatuphon said this attempt by the department will help keep the quantity of single use plastic bags from exceeding the nation's capacity to get rid of them. He said that greater efficiency in trash management can be achieved if the public helps reduce consumption.
If the program is successful, Burutphat said, the number of plastic bags that go into the trash will be reduced by 67 million every day.
It takes one plastic bag 450 years to decompose the Thai government calculates. But if discarded plastic bags are burned, they emit carbon dioxide, which contributes to the greenhouse effect, raising the planetary temperature. So reducing the number of plastic bags in use is considered the best way to lower the waste burden.
This is not the first time the Thai shoppers have been asked to refrain from using plastic bags.
Every year since 2009, in Thailand's capital city the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, together with the Central Retail Corporation Ltd, has held a 45-day "No Bag, No Baht" project.
Starting on June 5, World Environment Day, local markets offer consumers a one-baht (US$.03) discount for every 100 baht (US$3) purchase if they use their own cloth bags when shopping. If using plastic bags, consumers must donate one baht per plastic bag to the Environmental Foundation.
Every branch of Central Retail has persuaded shoppers to use the recycled bags or cloth bags instead of plastic or paper bags to reduce the estimated 600,000 plastic bags Bangkok shoppers use every day.
New this year, the Asia-Europe Foundation is embarking on an initiative in Thailand to create awareness of the dangers posed by single-use plastic bags. Volunteers will be at Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok on June 2, inviting passers-by to swap their plastic bags for a sustainable one to use in the future. The Asia-Europe Foundation says the collected plastic bags "will be creatively reused to promote further green awareness."
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2013. All rights reserved.
Cover photo: Pocket of Rubbish in Bangkok. Author: Michael Coghlan. Licensed by Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)