“Phuket currently generates as much as 550 tons of garbage every day and the volume tends to continually increase. While the only incinerator we have can handle only 250 tons of garbage per day, Phuket’s garbage problem levels up to a crisis and it’s closer to our life than you think.” said Nithi Ruktaetrakul, Brand Manager of Wongpanit Phuket.
We had a conversation today with Mr. Nithi, a zealous young businessman who makes a profit out of waste. He runs a recycling business under the name of Wongpanich Phuket Branch franchising from one of the country’s biggest waste recycling firm established since 1974. Tons of waste is sent to his factory every day.
How is today’s garbage situation in Phuket?
Phuket is lucky for being a travel destination, so most of the waste can be recycled unlike those agricultural areas where most of the waste generated is not recyclable. Five years ago, Phuket generated about 250 tons of garbage per day that didn’t exceed the incinerator’s power but nowadays the volume is as much as 550 tons per day and probably reaches 700 tons per day in the near future.
30-50% of the daily waste generated by businesses, government offices, schools and colleges, households and public agencies is recyclable waste. 30 tons, which is calculated as at least 10% of total recyclable waste goes to Wongpanich’s factory.
What is recyclable?
We can sort the recyclables into 5 categories:
- Paper e.g. magazines, catalogs, office paper, shredded paper, newspaper, cardboard, paper board
- Plastic e.g. PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) plastic bottles, mixed plastic, HDPE (high-density polyethylene), plastic bag
- Metal that combines with steel’s magnetic properties e.g. zinc
- Non-magnetic metals like copper, brass, aluminum, stainless steel
- Glass e.g. bottles, jars, vials, gallon jars, jugs
- Others e.g. batteries, rubber tubes, robes
Recycling these materials also means reducing waste and the consumption of fresh raw materials; for example if you use wasted paper to produce tissue paper, you don’t have to cut down the whole tree for such inconsiderable reasons. The easy concept of recycling is to “reproduce itself”. Scrap iron and steel is essential for making new steel as recycling steel scrap saves resources usage and saves the CO2 emissions produced when making steel from iron ore.
What isn’t recyclable?
Our big problem now is when people don’t have the right understanding for what isn’t recyclable. They try to sell us cloth, wood, tyres and some organic materials which we cannot recycle.
What can we do to help reduce garbage?
We should begin with teaching in families so that children know how to behave and be conscious of the environment. Parents should take responsibility to teach them since their very first steps. They will know how to choose environmentally friendly products. They should know how to reduce consumption and to manage unwanted items; whether to reuse it, to recycle it, or to throw it away. Garbage should not be mixed with recyclable items otherwise it’s useless. Hence sorting out garbage properly plays an important part in recycling procedures. If we, as every single individual, can reduce a kilogram of waste per day, consider the whole picture of thousands or millions of people: we can help decrease tons of garbage.
What should people be aware of in recycling?
You have to know what is and what isn’t recyclable first so that you can sort out the garbage right and handle it properly. You are not supposed to create burdens to others just like you know to turn off the light whenever you go to bed. Make it your habit, convince people and teach children how to. We, Wongpanich and other entrepreneurs, are ready to give out our hands to save Phuket as well.