30 state hospitals to stop giving plastic bags from Oct 1

30 state hospitals to stop giving plastic bags from Oct 1

Some of the 80 plastic bags found in the stomach of a pilot whale that died on June 1 off the coast in Songkhla province, unable to digest or vomit them out. (Photo supplied by Marine and Coastal Resources Department)
Some of the 80 plastic bags found in the stomach of a pilot whale that died on June 1 off the coast in Songkhla province, unable to digest or vomit them out. (Photo supplied by Marine and Coastal Resources Department)

The 30 state hospitals under the Department of Medical Services (DMS) will all stop providing patients with plastic bags to take home medication from Oct 1.

The policy change was announced on Tuesday, marking World Environment Day.

Those who visit these hospitals from Oct 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year, are advised to provide their own cloth bags to carry medicines they may be given, DMS director-general Somsak Akkhasilp said.

That is part of the Public Health Ministry’s policy to improve its waste management, contribute to efforts to reduce global warming, reduce costs and encourage more public participation in environmental protection, Dr Somsak said.

He said 18 of the 30 hospitals under the DMS have already been piloting the project and stopped giving out plastic bags to patients.

But the other 12 hospitals had handed out a total of 9.01 million plastic bags over the last year, at a cost 2.5 million baht, he said.

The 30 hospitals are in all regions of the country and include Lerdsin Hospital, Nopparat Rajathanee Hospital, Queen Sirikit National Institute of Child Health and Prasat Neurological Institute in Bangkok.

Across the globe, advocates are advocating bans on single-use plastic items and some governments are responding.

The European Union, for instance, proposed new rules that would apply to the entire bloc, targeting plastic products commonly found on its beaches and in its seas and which make up 70% of the continent's marine litter, according to media reports.

The plan aims to put a dent in the problem by eliminating the use of non-recyclable plastics by 2030, while also establishing a circular economy around the material to increase the demand for recycled alternatives.

The ban would apply to cotton swabs, cutlery, plates, straws, drink stirrers and balloon sticks, meaning those products would need to be made exclusively from more sustainable materials.

The legislation, which needs the approval of all member states and the European Parliament, would also require plastic producers pay for cleanup and waste management, CNN Money reported.

In the US, New York City, for instance, has introduced a new bill to ban the use of plastic straws in restaurants, bars, cafes, food carts, stadiums and other service establishments in the city.

The movement to do away with plastic straws is gaining serious momentum, with governments from the UK to Taiwan considering bans.


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