Minister says no time to waste on banning plastics

Thailand’s Minister of Natural Resources and Environment said there is no time to waste when it comes to banning single-use plastics to protect the country’s environment and countered criticism from some consumers over the rapid pace of implementing the ban.

“We have no more time to waste. At what price is our environment? Nobody has ever died because they don’t get to use plastic bags,” said Environment Minister Varawut Slipa-archa. He was responding to a reporter’s question about public support for the ban on plastic shopping bags and other single-use plastic items.

On the first of the year, Thailand implemented a ban on plastic bags in a bid to turn the tide on plastic pollution and protect the environment. Several surveys have shown that the vast majority of the Thai public supports the measure. The small percentage of those who objected mainly said that the ban was put in place too fast.

“I know that it is a lot to ask people to change their habits or adjust their daily routines, to carry tote bags or reusable bottles when they leave their houses. I know full well it’s not easy to change people’s mindset. But it’s not impossible,” Varawut said.

Thais use an estimated 45 billion plastic bags a year. About 30 percent, or 13.5 billion of them, are given out by grocery stores, while an equal amount comes from shopping malls, supermarkets, and convenience stores. About 40 percent, or 18 billion plastic bags, are from fresh markets.

Aside from the government ban, many of Thailand’s leading corporations have pledged to reduce their production and use of single-use plastic items. Corporations such as SCG and PTT are adopting and promoting sustainability measures and principles of the circular economy.

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