Phuket will become Thailand’s first province to embark on a major plastic bag reduction campaign with an official launch involving Phuket government organisations and the Phuket based SEEK environmental sustainability NGO on Monday, 27 February, 2012.
The campaign will, also, for the first time, include all retailers on the island signing up to a co-ordinated, Phuket wide initiative to reduce plastic bag use. Up to 2000 people are expected to attend the ceremony in Phuket Town.
SEEK member and Head of IUCN Southeast Asia, Dr Robert Mather said the plastic bag campaign was one of many environmental sustainability programmes now under way to ensure Phuket’s environment meets the demands of existing and future development.
“This partnership between the Phuket authorities, SEEK and business is vital to maintaining Phuket’s positioning as one of the world’s leading tourist destinations. We must act now to ensure Phuket’s environment is clean, green and sustainable in 20 years time. The plastic bag campaign is immediate and tangible evidence that with the right support, education, strategies and commitment we are turning this problem around,” Dr Mather said.
SEEK is asking the retailers to take a number of actions. These include:
- to stop giving away plastic bags except for fruit, meats, fish and bakery products;
- to sell REUSE [re-useable] bags to customers at a cheap price to make it good value and accessible;
- to promote signage at check-out points in multiple languages;
- to advertise the REUSE bags ;
- to support customers to use the REUSE bag;
- to train staff to understand reasons for the initiative;
- to commit to distributing fully bio-degradable bags;
- to introduce a points system for consumer education;
- to encourage suppliers to carry products in large packs, reducing plastic wrappers.
Getting all major retailers on Phuket to sign up for the campaign—Tesco Lotus has agreed to an initial step of having one plastic bag day a week– has taken considerable effort but had received strong support from local authorities.
“We are very appreciative of the support we have received from retailers and local authorities which will enable us to move forward with confidence on the plastic bag, and other environmental issues, facing Phuket,” Dr Mather said.
Plastic bags are a major environmental problem on Phuket because of an unchecked “throw away mentality,” a lack of regard for the environment; little co-ordination among organisations to address the problem and a “reactive” waste management policy.
The plastic bag campaign follows the successful 2009 “Summer in Phuket,” which aimed to rebrand the “low season” to project an annual tourism image to the world and the “Summer in Phuket” campaign which addressed roadside cleanups, reducing litter and an island wide household waste management campaign.
SEEK also plans to reduce the “visual pollution” of roadside billboards by working with the property industry in the future. Other initiatives include encouraging retailers to support green products, for example selling energy efficient light bulbs at reduced prices; placing recycling stations on retailers’ premises with appropriate multi-language signage; reducing energy use such as turning down the air conditioning, turning off promotional lights at night; and supporting local CSR programmes such as buying turtle products from the Main Kao turtle foundation and selling Tommy the Turtle book from SEEK that educates about waste management.
Note: On August 23, 24 and 25 SEEK will also hold an eco forum and festival highlighting a wide range of initiatives, forums, workshops, educational/fun activities and SEEK’s inaugural environmental awards. All major Phuket governmental, retail and other businesses, NGOs, schools and environmental groups will be involved.
About SEEK: SEEK stands for Environment, Economy, Education and Knowledge. SEEK is a voluntary group of Phuket citizens devoted to improving the environment through a number of active programmes aimed at reducing all forms of pollution, waste and environmental degradation through sustainable environment initiatives.
Contact: Sean Panton, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tel: 0833915869.
Keep Phuket Green: www.keepphuketgreen.com
Summer in Phuket: www.summerinphuket.com