EU-Thailand campaign to reduce plastic pollution in Phuket

PHUKET: A campaign has been launched in Phuket between government authorities and the European Union to educate on best waste management practices in an effort to reduce plastic pollution.

The project, which will be an ongoing collaboration between the organizations, was officially launched yesterday (April 4) at a press conference at Prince of Songkla University in Phuket, chaired by Deputy Governor Amnuay Phinsuwan.

The project aims to reduce plastic waste and encourage proper segregation of waste by promoting the benefits of recycling, otherwise known as the circular economy, within households and businesses across the island. It is funded by the European Union (EU) and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and managed by the German Organization for International Cooperation (GIZ) in Thailand in collaboration with the municipality of Phuket.

The project will build on the experiences and results of previous similar initiatives where EU and GIZ representatives will work with local government officials and community members to learn more about their existing practices. in terms of waste management, in order to then identify the means of improving them. .

Yesterday, members of EU, BMZ and GIZ joined students from the Prince of Songkla University campus in Phuket, the Phuket Environment Foundation and the KHUN Foundation in a series of interactive round tables to raise awareness of the campaign.

Discussions highlighted that the use and subsequent disposal of single-use plastic items has increased dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic, as multiple forced lockdowns have resulted in people being locked out more frequently at home, turning to food delivery services notorious for overuse. single-use plastics such as straws, wrappers, containers and bags.

The session further highlighted that single-use plastic is a very difficult source of waste to break down which, when discarded irresponsibly and impacted by the sun, will fragment into tiny pieces known as microplastics. These will then seep into soil, water sources and can lead to contamination of water and food which is ultimately ingested by people.

He also highlighted the devastating impact it has on the environment and wildlife and how more and more sea creatures are ending up with huge amounts of ingested plastic waste, often leading to their death.

Dr Giuseppe Busini, Ambassador and Deputy Head of the EU Delegation, explained that the EU has been making serious efforts to tackle the problem of plastic pollution globally since the introduction of the plastic pollution policy. EU plastics management in 2018.

He added that similar projects promoting the use of a circular economy to manage the problem of marine debris have been set up and that a knowledge exchange between seven partner countries in Europe and Asia has proven fruitful. He highlighted a strong desire for Phuket to take this approach to work towards eradicating the problem of plastic pollution as outlined in the project roadmap.

His remarks were echoed by Dr. Bernd Christiansen, diplomatic adviser to the Ministry of Agriculture at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Thailand. Dr. Christiansen pointed out that marine plastic pollution is a global problem that requires effective deployment and use of resources to combat it. He also recommends education and the adoption of a circular economy to boost recycling efforts as opposed to the irresponsible disposal of single-use plastic items in particular, adding that the pilot project details the best approach to manage and reduce plastic waste in homes and businesses.

Mr Amnuay said Phuket is recognized as a leading global tourist destination which expects to see an increase in the number of international visitors as the situation with COVID-19 improves and preventive health measures are put in place. still relaxed. However, he also warned that with more tourists will come an increase in the use of single-use plastics.

He added that campaigns like this can help raise awareness among everyone within public and private sector organizations and the general public and that if everyone cooperates responsibly, Phuket can achieve its long-term goal of become a truly clean city.

After the plenary sessions were over, a series of student-manned booths were made available in the foyer, focusing on sustainable waste management and food sources.

Bryce K. Locke