A cup to go or food wrapped in a plastic bag? Single-use plastics are on the rise in food delivery and takeaway, but they contribute to waste. Often, they cannot be recycled and due to the rise in plastics consumption and a lack of functioning waste management systems, this plastic waste regularly leaks into the environment.
To discuss options and solutions to reduce single-use plastics in food delivery and takeaway for restaurants and cafes, the Pollution Control Department (PCD) under the Thai Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) and the European Union and the German Government funded ‘Rethinking Plastics – Circular Economy Solutions to Marine Litter’ project hosted a workshop on 16 June 2022 at Hilton Sukhumvit Hotel Bangkok.
The event brought together around 60 participants from the public, civil and private sectors to discuss existing options for restaurants and cafes and collect their different experiences, perspectives and opinions. These will be included in a set of guideline that is jointly being developed by ”Rethinking Plastics” and PCD and shall serve as an orientation for restaurants and cafes on how to reduce the use of single-use plastics in their operations. It is closely linked to the Thai Government’s Roadmap on Plastic Waste Management (2018-2030), which includes banning plastic carrier bags with less than 36-micron thickness, styrofoam food packaging, plastic straws, and single-use plastic cups and lids in food delivery and takeaway for restaurants and cafés.
Ms. Wassana Jangprajak, Environmentalist, Senior Professional Level, Pollution Control Department thanked all relevant stakeholders and noted that “the guideline will be in line with the Roadmap on Plastic Waste Management 2018-2030. Cooperation amongst government, the private sector and civil society are required in order to drive the national policy”.
Matej Dornik, Foreign Policy Instruments / Regional Team for Asia & Pacific Delegation of the European Union to Thailand added: “The EU adopted the Directive on reducing the impact of certain plastic products on the environment (EU Single-Use Plastics Directive) in 2019 banning certain single-use plastic items in the EU Member States since last year. This workshop serves to learn from these experiences and to collect opinions from the diverse range of relevant stakeholders in Thailand to ensure that potential solutions here are really feasible and can be successful.”
The event also featured a panel discussion to exchange and learn about key factors that would enable restaurants and cafes to reduce single-use plastics. The five panel members were from the Institute of Asia Studies, Chulalongkorn University, the Pollution Control Department, the Thai Bioplastics Industry Association, the Less Plastic Thailand network, and Rise Café.
“From the restaurant’s point of view, awareness-raising on single-use plastics reduction is important. However, plastic is practical for both hygienic and convenience reasons. Therefore, in order to find an answer to reduce the single-use plastics, there have to be alternatives that can close the gaps as much as possible,” said Ms. Vipavee Kittitien, Manager of Rise Cafe.
Dr. Chonticha Nithitsuttibuta, a national expert of Advantage Consulting, who is working on the guideline, added: “We definitely need solutions: Plastic waste has increased by over 60% in Bangkok, with the majority coming from food packaging. Each food delivery order generates between 5 and10 pieces of plastic waste, including food bag, food box, split condiment sachet, spoon, fork, straw, and, occasionally, a secondary plastic wrapper.”
The guideline for reducing single-use plastics in food delivery and takeaway for restaurants is now in finalisation and is planned to be published by August 2022.