Thailand is beginning this new decade by tackling the plastic crisis banning plastic bags. At the stroke of midnight entering into 2020, all major retailers will no longer be able to use single-use plastic bags. A complete ban, that will include smaller shops, will go into effect in 2021.
With the county’s waste sites and waterways being drastically affected by plastic waste, this is a big step to reduce their plastic pollution.
According to France24, Thailand is one of the largest contributors to ocean pollution, with plastic bags recently turning up in the stomachs of dead marine mammals like dugongs and green turtles and prompting national soul-searching.
“Thailand was ranked sixth among the world’s top countries that dumps waste into the sea. During the past five months, we were down to 10th… thanks to the cooperation of the Thai people,” says Varawut Silpa-Archa, the minister of natural resources and environment.
Their government’s first campaign stage to reduce plastic waste involved customers voluntarily refusing to use plastic bags. This reduced the use of bags by 2 billion in five months. According to EcoWatch, the government has launched a public awareness campaign to make plastic bags taboo. It has run television ads that pixelate plastic bags with other cultural taboos like nudity, smoking cigarettes, alcohol use and violent crime.
Greenpeace’s Pichmol Rugrod believes this plastic bag ban is “not enough to solve the plastic crisis. We should stop the ‘throw-away’ culture in Thailand. Micro-plastic will then create another problem… it affects the environment in terms of when it’s in the soil because it has chemicals.”
Let’s hope, as cities and countries across the world issue plastic bag bans, others will follow suit and plastic pollution will be significantly reduced.