20 ministries kick off campaign to reduce use of plastic bags

Led by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, 20 ministries and the private sector today launched a campaign to reduce the use of plastic bags to mark the World Environment Day, which falls on June 5 of every year.

Gen Surasak Karnjanarat, the natural resources and environment minister, said the campaign will start with concerted efforts to reduce the use of plastic bags with straps and Styrofoam materials in their offices, starting June 5.

The campaign will be carried out under the theme: “Beat Plastic Pollution: If you can’t reuse it, refuse it.”

Their intention is to create an environmental awareness, he said.

Gen Surasak said during the past 10 years, Thailand has produced about 2 million tonnes of plastic garbage every year. Of this, only 0.5 million tonnes are reused. Most of the plastic bags are contaminated or infected. The plastic trash not only affects health and the environment but also the country’s economy as a whole, he said.

Pictures of rafts of plastic garbage in the ocean and its effects on marine life including sea turtles, whales, dolphins and rare sea animals clearly show that the environment problem caused by plastic waste has become more serious, Gen Surasak said.

“In 2016 alone, the country had 27 million tonnes of garbage, of them 3.2 million was plastic. The figures coincide with information of the United Nations Environmental Programme which says that as many as 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide each year. One half of the plastic products are for one-time use – including spoons, forks and cups. Each year more than 13 million tonnes of plastic garbage were dumped into the sea. Thailand is ranked 6th among countries in the world with the highest amounts of plastic garbage,” the minister said.

Gen Surasak said that in the cabinet meeting of April 17 this year, Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha ordered the Natural Resources Ministry, the Interior Ministry and other agencies concerned to start a joint campaign, with cooperation from the private sector, for the reduction of the use of plastic materials.

Ratchada Suriyakul Na Ayutthaya, director of the Department of Environmental Quality, said there will be an activity entitled “Run For Nature 2018” at the Ayutthaya Historical Park in Ayutthaya province to promote various kinds of environment-friendly runs, aimed at reducing plastic thrash, particularly plastic cups and bottles. Proceeds from the event will go to the Ayutthaya Hospital and the Forest Protection Foundation.