Thailand Begins the New Year With Plastic Bag Ban
Thailand rang in 2020 with an effort to tackle the plastic crisis filling the country's waste sites and choking its waterways. The country's ban on plastic bags at major retailers began as soon as the clock struck midnight in Bangkok. A complete ban of bags that includes smaller shops will go into effect in 2021, as Reuters reported.
The campaign to reduce single-use plastics, especially plastic bags is an ongoing effort by the country's government to reduce land and sea debris. There has been a public backlash to the plastic waste crisis in Thailand after several animals were found dead with inordinate amounts of plastic stuck in their digestive tracts, including land and sea mammals like deer and dugongs, as The Hill reported. Green sea turtles were also found to have choked on plastic, according to France 24. The epidemic of man-made litter killing Thailand's wildlife led to some soul-searching from government and business leaders in Thailand.
"Thailand was ranked sixth among the world's top countries that dumps waste into the sea," said Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Varawut Silpa-Archa to reporters on New Year's Day after handing out reusable bags to the public, as Reuters reported. "During the past five months, we were down to 10th ... thanks to the cooperation of the Thai people."
Major mall retailers and the ubiquitous 7-Eleven convenience stores will no longer distribute plastic bags under the new law. Instead, customers will have to bring in their own bag or pay a small fee for a reusable cloth-bag, according to France 24.
Some consumers were offended by the idea of paying for a bag.
"Instead, I will go to the local markets because they still give us plastic bags," said Viroj Sinchairokekul, a 63-year-old said, at a Bangkok mall, to France 24.
The government has launched a public awareness campaign to make plastic bags taboo. It has run television ads that pixelate plastic bags with other cultural taboos like nudity, smoking cigarettes, alcohol use and violent crime, as France 24 reported.
The government's effort to shame plastic bag use has already caused a drastic reduction in waste, according to government statistics. The ministry of Natural Resources and Environment said that Thailand reduced the use of plastic bags by 2 billion, or about 5,765 tons last year, in its campaign to get consumers to refuse plastic bags from stores, as Reuters reported.
However, fresh markets and rural areas still rely on plastic bags and plastic bag use is woven into the fabric of daily habits. Those areas make up about 40 percent of plastic bag use in Thailand, according to Reuters.
"It's not going to be easy to change the way of thinking and behavior of those people," said Varawut Silpa-Archa, as Reuters reported.
While Thailand seeks to make plastic use taboo, environmental activists see much larger action needed to solve the plastic crisis.
"We should stop the 'throw-away' culture in Thailand," said Pichmol Rugrod, of Greenpeace, as France 24 reported. She added that the cloth bags are woven from a fiber spun from microplastics. "Microplastic will then create another problem ... it affects the environment in terms of when it's in the soil because it has chemicals."
- Supermarkets in Thailand and Vietnam Swap Plastic Packaging for ... ›
- Thailand to Ban Imports of Plastics and E-Waste - EcoWatch ›
- Coronavirus Worsens Thailand's Plastic Waste Crisis ›
- Thai National Park Mails Trash Back to Litterbugs - EcoWatch ›
piyaset / iStock / Getty Images Plus
- No Country Is Protecting Children's Health, Major Study Finds ... ›
- 'Every Child Born Today Will Be Profoundly Affected by Climate ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jeff Masters, Ph.D.
Earth had its second-warmest year on record in 2020, just 0.02 degrees Celsius (0.04°F) behind the record set in 2016, and 0.98 degrees Celsius (1.76°F) above the 20th-century average, NOAA reported January 14.
Figure 1. Departure of temperature from average for 2020, the second-warmest year the globe has seen since record-keeping began in 1880, according to NOAA. Record-high annual temperatures over land and ocean surfaces were measured across parts of Europe, Asia, southern North America, South America, and across parts of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans. No land or ocean areas were record cold for the year. NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information
Figure 2. Total ocean heat content (OHC) in the top 2000 meters from 1958-2020. Cheng et al., Upper Ocean Temperatures Hit Record High in 2020, Advances in Atmospheric Sciences
Figure 3. Departure of sea surface temperature from average in the benchmark Niño 3.4 region of the eastern tropical Pacific (5°N-5°S, 170°W-120°W). Sea surface temperature were approximately one degree Celsius below average over the past month, characteristic of moderate La Niña conditions. Tropical Tidbits
- NASA and NOAA: Last Decade Was the Hottest on Record - EcoWatch ›
- Earth Just Had Its Hottest September Ever Recorded, NOAA Says ... ›
In December of 1924, the heads of all the major lightbulb manufacturers across the world met in Geneva to concoct a sinister plan. Their talks outlined limits on how long all of their lightbulbs would last. The idea is that if their bulbs failed quickly customers would have to buy more of their product. In this video, we're going to unpack this idea of purposefully creating inferior products to drive sales, a symptom of late-stage capitalism that has since been coined planned obsolescence. And as we'll see, this obsolescence can have drastic consequences on our wallets, waste streams, and even our climate.
- Consumer Society No Longer Serves Our Needs - EcoWatch ›
- Electronic Waste: New EU Rules Target Throwaway Culture ... ›
At least 42 people are confirmed dead and more than 600 injured after a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck the Indonesian island of Sulawesi early Friday morning.
- At Least 27 Dead as Landslides Strike Indonesia, Including Village ... ›
- 1,400 Dead, 70,000 Homeless After Earthquake and Tsunami in ... ›
By Jessica Corbett
Water protectors were arrested Thursday after halting construction at a Minnesota worksite for Enbridge's Line 3 project by locking themselves together inside a pipe segment.
- Indigenous-Led Water Protectors Take Direct Action Against ... ›
- Indigenous and Climate Leaders Outraged Over Minnesota Permits ... ›