These days, the private sector in Thailand has become more environmentally-conscious as companies start setting a clear guideline on plastic bags reduction. This is considered a beneficial move to the government's waste management policy since plastic waste has become a global concern and a national agenda.
Retailers have recently announced policies tackling plastic bags. For example, Central Group and its affiliates set their goal to reduce the use of plastic bags up to 150 million pieces by 2019, beginning on June 5, 2019, which was World Environment Day.
At the same time, retail chain such as FamilyMart will start a similar campaign by encouraging customers to stop asking for plastic bags and on the fourth day of each month, the convenient stores will stop providing plastic bags. While Tops Market, Tops Superstore and Tops Daily will stop offering plastic bags every Tuesday of each week and on the fourth day of each month as well.
Retail stores with more over 2,000 branches nationwide, such as Tesco Lotus, have announced the elimination of all food-grade foam packaging starting from July 1, 2019. And by switching plastic trays and plastic film to 100% recyclable thermoformed packaging will reduce the use of foam by 51 tons or 11.24 million pieces per year. Tesco Lotus also installed 10 recycling machines so that customers can drop unused plastic bottles and drink cans into these devices.
CP All Public Company Limited, the owner of 7-Eleven stores, said that during the first quarter of 2019 it has donated money to the project "Reduce plastic bag a day ... you can do it" by asking customers at 7-Eleven stores to stop using plastic bags in exchange for a donation. During this campaign, each time customers refuse plastic bag, 7-Eleven will transfer 20 satangs (0.20 baht) to buy medical equipment for Navamindrapobitr 84th Anniversary Building, Siriraj Hospital. In the end, 7-Eleven's campaign has donated 57 million baht in total for the medical equipment project.
At the same time, CP All initiated another campaign called "Reduce plastic bag a day ... you can do it; phase 2" by making a financial contribution to Siriraj Hospital, community hospitals and hospitals in the rural areas, a total of 77 hospitals in 77 provinces nationwide. As of August 8, 2019, this campaign reduced up to 593,016,358 plastic bags and over 118 million baht worth.
Makro, the retail store brand of Siam Makro Public Company Limited, is one of the first department stores who has shown concern on environmental issues by imposing the policy of plastic bag free since starting its operations 30 years ago and still continue to this day. On July 3, 2019, which was the International Plastic Bag Free Day, Makro has compiled a statistic of plastic bags reduction over the past 30 years the result showed that, by counting only 1 bag per 1 purchase, it has reduced the use of more than 5,400 million plastic bags.
Meanwhile, The Mall Group Company Limited launched The Mall Group Go Green project, by stop giving away plastic bags on a daily basis and encourage customers to bring reusable shopping bags. If it is unavoidable to use plastic bags, the customer will be charged 1 baht per bag and in turn, The Mall Group will donate the fee to support WWF's mission in Thailand.
Similarly, HomePro launched the "No Plastic Bags" campaign with all branches nationwide has stopped offering plastic bags since July 1, 2019, and set its goal of reducing the more than 1.5 million pieces of plastic per year.
As we can see that the plastic bags reduction campaigns by retail stores are actively carried out with support from the government. On June 1, 2019, the Cabinet has approved the tax measures by allowing companies or juristic partnerships to use the expenditures on biodegradable plastic packaging as a tax reduction. After receiving certification from the Ministry of Industry, companies' tax can be deducted 1.25 times of their expenses starting from January 1, 2019, to December 31, 2021.
In addition, on September 6, 2019, the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Warawut Silpa-archa, met with representatives from 43 companies and agreed that department stores and convenience stores will stop giving away single plastic bags starting from January 1, 2020 and by January 1, 2021, single-use plastic will be rooted out from Thailand.
When the government move, the private sector responds and consumers will change their habit to be more environmentally friendly. It is possible that in the near future Thailand will decreasingly depend on plastic. Currently, Thai people make an average of 1.15 kilograms of waste per day, or 27.82 million tons per year, using 45,000 million plastic bags per year and 6,700 million pieces of foam packaging per year as well was 9,750 million pieces of glass and plastic bottles per year