Organizing activities with hundreds of participants usually generate tons of single-use plastic, leaving a large amount of non-recyclable waste such as foam food containers, plastic bottle, plastic mug, plastic straw and plastic bags. The amount of garbage that has been dumped at an assembly venue is terrifying but at the same time it also the source of inspiration. This is the idea behind the campaign called "Sanam Luang Model". It is a waste management model for an event focusing on the reduction of garbage by discouraging participants the use of plastic from the start and at the end aiming to change people's behaviour by encouraging them to cut waste production even before leaving home to participate a public activity.
Sanam Luang model is the first collaboration between the Department of Environmental Quality Promotion, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Thailand together with Volunteers for Dad, Thammasat University and Bangkok Metropolitan Administration. The participants carry out a campaign around Grand Palace and Sanam Luang area, called "Good deed for father, Volunteer spirit for waste sorting campaign" from October 19th, 2016 to January 1st, 2017 to enhance knowledge and understanding of the people about the proper separation of waste when attending a public event. During that period, the engaging event was public attendance of the lying-in-state of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Grand Palace, there were more than 44,254 volunteers and volunteers joined this campaign.
The implementation of this project has created a systematic waste separation management and helps reduce the amount of waste before final disposal. It also enables a more effective recycling process. Some types of garbage that deemed non-recyclable, such as food waste, are being made useful again. Later "Sanam Luang Model" was introduced at the provincial level. The volunteers have been drawn up, called the Volunteer for Natural resource and Environment, to protect the natural resources and environment of the village. The project is also aimed to commemorate and to show gratitude to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej as he was called "Father of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation".
As for the framework of the campaign, volunteers will inform the local how to start a primary waste separation in the area. By doing so, after registration at the coordination centre, every volunteer who participates in this campaign will be first given a piece of basic information about waste separation. Afterward, the volunteers will act as "communication mediator" and spreading knowledge about waste separation at the entrance of the event. This will have an impact on the public's perception and lead to awareness about waste reduction.
Sanam Luang Model: A volunteer's roadmap to zero-wasteSawitree Srisuk, Deputy Director-General of Department of Environmental Quality Promotion, explained that "Our achievement is that people are now capable of sorting the garbage conformingly to the designated bin, including food waste, general waste and recyclable waste. During the "Good deed for father, Volunteer spirit for waste sorting campaign" the volunteers will inform the public about the location of waste separation area. The volunteers also request people's cooperation by reducing or stop using foam boxes and plastic water bottles. We also encourage them to drink water from their own travel bottles and fill them up at our water service in order to reduce the amount of waste from plastic bottles. In addition, some volunteers will station at the screening points around the event area as well as mobile units who will keep informing the public while collecting garbage as an example for those who come to join the event, This will help to raise awareness about waste separation as well".
The success of Sanam Luang model has led to the creation of a manual for organizing events or activities at the provincial level nationwide. According to the process, the first steps is to publicize the awareness about waste management in order to gain public cooperation and at the end creating a change in people's behaviour. Also, the cooperation from vendors is necessary, since they usually sell products by using foam boxes, from now on all types of single-use plastic containers are not allowed in the event. If it is unavoidable to use plastic packaging the host should manage to buy it all back. Cooperation with the business sector is also needed by bringing bio-plastics products to be sold in the event at a low price or cheaper than market price. The remaining plastic products left in the venue will be recycled.
At the same time, during the event, there will be volunteers who keep informing the public on waste separation. For instance, there is a tradition of walking up to Doi Suthep mountain on foot during Visakha Bucha Day, in 2018 Sanam Luang model has been adopted to this event and helped to manage waste more efficiently by leaving the venue garbage-free and around 10 tons of waste was transported to the disposal site. This model helped decrease waste from the previous year, which was 27 tons.
In the long run, it is necessary to create cooperation and support at the provincial level by initiate public relations campaigns to give awareness among people and encourage them to change their habit before participating in any event by starting carrying cloth bags, travel water bottles and personal food boxes.
"Sanam Luang Model" and "Volunteer for garbage separation campaign" are considered highly successful. These volunteer campaigns continuously educate the public about waste separation and now many provinces started to adopt "Sanam Luang Model", such as Nakhon Pathom and Chiang Mai. In the future, if these campaigns are conducted widely in every region, the waste management in every province will definitely be able to achieve the target of Zero Waste and will set a waste management standard covering the entire country.