Thailand joins EU in bid to tackle marine litter

Thailand joins EU in bid to tackle marine litter

Thailand is joining hands with six other Asian countries to try and tackle the issue of marine pollution, amid increasing criticism about plastic use in the region.

Under a project called "Rethinking Plastics: Circular Economy Solutions to Marine Litter", Thailand -- along with China, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam -- will be working together with the European Union (EU) and Germany to come up with a solution to the growing problem.

The project will be implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and Expertise France (EF), with a budget of 10 million euros (about 333.2 million baht).

The director-general for the Pollution Control Department, Pralong Dumrongchai, welcomed the initiative and affirmed Thailand's commitment to its Roadmap on Plastic Waste Management 2018-2030.

"Next year, you won't see plastic micro beads, cap seals, and oxo-plastics. Food containers, straws, and bags less than 36 microns thick will be banned in the next two years," he said at the project's launch at the United Nations Conference Centre (UNCC) yesterday.

"By 2027, we aim to recycle 100% of our domestic plastic waste."

Alvaro Zurita, the project's leader, stressed the initiative will not take a conventional approach to recycling and waste management.

Instead, he said, the project is aimed at helping its participants adopt a more sustainable way to produce, use and dispose of plastic.

"We have six areas of action. With regards to plastic waste management, we are trying to introduce the concept of extended producer responsibility and deposit return schemes," he said.

"When it comes to sustainability, we are designing [materials] that can be easily reused while at the same time looking for alternatives to single-use plastic."

The project, said Mr Zurita, will also attempt to deal with sea-based litter and encourage the use and purchase of products which cause the least environmental impact.

At the event, EU Ambassador to Thailand, Pirkka Tapiola, also urged all stakeholders to urgently address the issue of marine litter, which he described as an "existential threat to the planet".

"We have the EU Circular Economy Action Plan 2015 and the European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy 2018. We have set out that, for example, by 2030, all plastic packages will be recyclable and reusable," he said.

Mr Tapiola commended Asean's adoption of the Bangkok Declaration on Combating Marine Debris, but still expressed concern about the ongoing problem.

"As part of the EU's diplomatic mission global campaign against marine debris, I led a team to Koh Sak in Pattaya for a cleanup campaign. In just 1.5 hours, we collected 3,288 plastic bottles -- six times more than we collected last year at the same location," said Mr Tapiola.

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