We humans are very wasteful. Worse still, we don’t like to think about waste, as it’s something unwanted and useless; we just throw it away and hope that someone else will dispose of it.
It is estimated that each one of us produces about one kilogram of waste each day. To work out how much waste is generated in Thailand in one year, simply multiply this figure by 365 (number of days) and then by 70 million (number of people). The result? Over 25 million tons.
To tackle this problem, the Thai government, along with several private companies and individuals, aim to turn Thailand into a ‘zero-waste society’. To this end, the Department of Environment Quality Promotion has produced a ‘Mission Zero Waste’ educational booklet for use in schools, with helpful suggestions for ways that youngsters can reduce, reuse and recycle their waste.
It has also introduced a ‘Zero Waste Community’ award for villages that are able to significantly reduce the amount of waste that they produce. The response has been enthusiastic; in 2017 over 700 villages entered the competition, which was won by two villages in Buriram Province in the country’s northeast.
In order to reduce their waste, the villagers separated and recycled all their plastic, paper and glass, and transformed their organic waste into fermented fertilizer and organic pesticides to replace chemical products on local farms. In this way, villagers not only live healthier lives, but they make money from their waste too.
The urgent need to change our wasteful habits has resulted in some innovative ways of dealing with the problem. For example, in Ban Pabuk, a suburb of Chiang Mai, fruit farmer Nopparat Upong has found a way of recycling Styrofoam into bricks by crushing the foam with a special tool and mixing it with water and sand. Though not as strong as house bricks, these bricks are adequate for such uses as marking the borders of flower beds.
Another ingenious use of technology to reduce waste is the production of biodegradable food and drink containers from bamboo shavings and cassava, which are currently made by Universal Biopack. While these containers are still more expensive than those made of Styrofoam, the company’s founder, Suthep Vichakyothin, is confident that demand will increase among his clients in the food and drink industry as environmental awareness grows, and he is already planning to treble his monthly production.
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