Thai plastic credit program catching global attention

Thailand is one of a progressive group of countries piloting an innovative approach to plastic pollution. The Kingdom is allowing those who collect plastic waste for recycling to earn money from companies by selling them offset credits, similar to carbon credits.

In the Thai eastern coastal province of Ranong, locals are battling plastic waste floating down rivers to the sea. For the past few years, they have been collecting about 120 tons of plastic waste each year. Starting in 2019, with the help of social initiative called the Second Life Thailand project, the plastic they gather is recycled into chips for use in new products.

Now that social venture is becoming profitable. For every ton locals collect and remove from the environment, Second Life generates a “plastic credit,” which it sells to companies that want to offset their own plastic waste footprint.

The concept is based on the mechanism used for carbon credits. Some companies that are trying to reduce pollution and become more sustainable simply cannot completely eliminate carbon emissions or plastic production.

To offset the carbon or plastic they still produce, they buy credits from recyclers, paying for the removal of other carbon or plastic. In that way, they can claim they are “neutral” when it comes to pollutants.

“Removing pollution from the environment ton-by-ton gives companies a way to account for the share of plastic they say they must produce because there are not alternatives to the material yet,” the Eco-business website wrote.

“The Thai-based project is now one of dozens of global waste collection and recycling efforts that sell plastic credits,” Eco-business added. “This emerging marketplace now includes dozens of global companies which can purchase from about 32 credit schemes, each incorporating several plastic collection projects worldwide like the one in Thailand.”

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