Phuket, a world class tourism destination, has adopted policies that promote sustainable tourism and environmental accountability to the community by reducing and refraining from using foams, plastic bags, plastic packaging, and disposable utensils that are not environmentally friendly. The public and private sectors in Phuket under the supervision of local government organizations, retail sector, and tourism industry, have issued policies and regulations for businesses and the public to curb the usage of foam containers and plastic straws; to encourage the use of natural or biodegradable materials that are not harmful to the environment; to urge manufacturers to substitute the use of foams and plastics in products and packaging effective from 14 February 2019; and to encourage stores and the public to start using cloth or paper bags effective from 1 October 2019.
Prince of Songkla University Phuket Campus (PSU Phuket) is a higher education institution that does not only focuses on teaching and learning, but also serves as a main research center in developing solutions to solve common problems faced by the local community and the country’s society in general. Associate Professor Pun Thongchumnum, Ph.D., Vice President of Phuket Campus, reported that in today’s fast-paced culture, factors such as economic, social, and competitions play a major role in shaping and changing the way we behave in the society and the way we live our lives, including our eating habits. In response to the growing demands for fast and convenient meals in the past few years, food delivery services with B2B2C (Business to Business to Customer) business model began to evolve rapidly especially in bustling big cities and provinces. Along with the booming of food delivery service platforms, the amount of waste generated from food packaging is also increasing significantly—adding to the already complex waste problems we are facing.
A survey conducted from 19-22 October, 2019 by Prince of Songkla University Phuket Campus found that there are currently 3 food delivery service providers in Phuket, employing over than 2,850 drivers with more than 1,000 participating restaurants using the platforms. According to the survey results, the waste generated from food delivery service are as follows:
1. In the case of food delivery
1.1 Number of food packaging boxes from food delivery service
1.2 Number of plastic utensils from food delivery service
With utensils 37.14%
Without utensils 68.86%
2. In the case of drink delivery
2.1. 100% plastic cups
2.2. 0% paper or biodegradable cups
From this finding, the university proposes four solutions to address the waste problems in Phuket, without affecting consumers’ behavior:
1. Phuket Province should request for cooperation from all restaurants and food delivery service providers to start using environmentally friendly packaging.
2. Launch a campaign to urge consumers to reduce the use of disposable single-use plastic utensils by encouraging them to bring their own utensils from home, and to encourage consumers to refrain from using plastic straws.
3. Launch a campaign to encourage consumers to avoid buying anything from businesses that still use packaging and utensils that are not environmentally friendly.
4. Phuket Province should announce clear environmental policies and practices, such as Phuket being a foam-free province, and penalized any violators accordingly.
As a higher education institution, PSU Phuket is fully aware of the increasing waste problems in Phuket. Thereby, the university is implementing strategic plans to be a green university (Green Campus) by integrating energy and environment conservation measures into our teaching methods, research, and all activities of the university such as campaigning for PSU Phuket 100% foam-free campus, promoting waste bank project, adopting efficient and energy-saving policies, and implementing regulations to discourage the use of foam packaging, plastic bags, plastic cups, plastic utensils, and plastic straws in accordance with the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation and Phuket’s policy. Additionally, in 2019 PSU Phuket is taking part in the UI GreenMetric World University Rankings, a world university ranking system by University of Indonesia that ranks the universities based on sustainability performance with more than 360 participating universities from over 61 countries. The criteria used to measure and rank the university performance consists of 6 categories:
1. Setting and Infrastructure (location and infrastructure) 15%
2. Energy and Climate Change 21%
3. Waste Management 18%
4. Water Management 10%
5. Transportation Management (environmentally friendly transportation) 18%
6. Education (the ability to provide environmental education and sustainable development) 18%