The Thai government is enforcing a ban on plastics in its national parks. Forget about greenhouse gases and radioactive waste – plastic is a true killer. Since plastic was developed in the 50’s, the world has produced 8.3 billion tonnes. The problem is, is that plastic takes hundreds of years to biodegrade. Virtually every piece of plastic produced still exists in some form in our environment. Plastic is clogging our earth and our oceans. Thailand is gradually waking up to this fact but there is still huge amounts of work to be done to change habits and legislation on plastic usage.
Thailand is the 5th biggest contributor to plastic pollution
Thailand is one of the main contributors to plastic pollution on a world scale. The following are some harrowing statistics about the plastic problems in Thailand:
– Thailand generates 1.03 million tonnes of plastic waste annually
– 3% of this annual waste is dumped into oceans
– The average Thai citizen uses 8 plastic bags per day
– In Bangkok, 600,000 plastic bags are used per day
– A 10km patch of plastic trash was seen floating in the Gulf of Thailand in 2017
– Plastic waste increases in Thailand by approx. 12% per year
Plastic is used for literally everything
The main problem is the fact that practically anything you buy in Thailand comes in a plastic bag. There is a saying that if there was a plastic bag big enough, all Thailand’s cars would be wrapped in one! Plastic bags for groceries. Plastic bags for single items in a supermarket. Plastic straws and cup holders from 7-Eleven stores. You cannot escape plastic in Thailand!
Something must be done to turn the plastic tides
These stats and facts are shocking and are just the tip of the iceberg. Thailand really does have a plastic addiction. A fundamental change is required. Plastic is affecting the countries national parks. Beautiful beaches are littered with plastic waste from locals and tourists. Wildlife are swallowing plastic as the Thai rivers and oceans become clogged – how does the government hope to address this issue?
Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Create Bold Plan
To help tackle Thailand’s plastic problem, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is creating a bold plan. This plan is still under construction but will be unveiled to the public within the next few months. In short, the plan will prevent people from bringing plastic and foam into areas under their control (i.e. national parks).
Park inspections and guidelines are outlined
As a forerunner to the plan, the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation has been tasked with inspecting the 154 national parks and 7 zoos. This inspection will look at current plastic usage, and outline how that figure can be reduced. Once the plan is in place, the following will be enforced:
No plastic & foam bags, cups, containers will be allowed in the parks & zoos
How this will be policed and enforced remains to be seen, and this is a main point of contention for many. Who will actively stop people bringing plastic into the parks? At the moment, it appears as if the Thai government are simply banking on our goodwill and own desire to help the environment. Will everyone follow these rules? How will tourists and locals be made aware of the plastic ban before entering the parks? These are all questions we are hoped that will be answered in the future.
Questions are also being raised regarding the shops and vendors within the parks. These vendors themselves supply a large amount of plastic. Plastic bags for souvenirs, plastic drinks bottles and plastic cutlery, for example. Banning individuals bringing plastic in will undoubtedly help, but surely that should extend to vendors within the parks and zoos.
A change in habits is required
Whilst this forthcoming ban is certainly a step in the right direction, more action is required. Thailand’s residents and visitors must have a serious habits change to effectively reduce plastic. More must be done to reduce plastic usage throughout the country. The nation’s reliance on plastic bags and straws, for example, must change. Furthermore, citizens must be urged to re-use bags or bring their own containers when shopping. It is clear that the government intends to address these problems, and the national park ban is just one of many measures. Ultimately, individuals and businesses need to be more responsible when it comes to plastic consumption – regardless of the laws in place. Just because you are allowed to use 3 plastic bags and 2 straws for minimal shopping doesn’t mean it is necessary.
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