When you buy a product, what do you usually do with its packaging? Do you recycle it or throw it in the bin?
Today, our world is full of waste, much of it single use and undegradable and unrecyclable. The amount of plastic thrown away is startling. In 2017, Thailand produced a whopping 27.37 million tonnes of waste, (Pollution Control Department, Thailand) of which an alarming amount ended up in our landfills, rivers and oceans.
Packaging is one of the pressing issues and several authorities are combining their efforts to tackle this environmental problem, in particular plastic waste.The Pollution Control Department (PCD) has been cooperating with Advancing and Measuring Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) for a Low-Carbon Economy in Middle-Income and Newly Industrialized Countries (Advance SCP), a GIZ Thailand project, on this issue.
From 1-5 April 2019, the German Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) invited PCD led by its Director General, Mr. Pralong Damrongthai, along with representatives from Indonesia and Malaysia to attend a High-Level Policy Exchange and Exposure Visit in Berlin, Germany.
The visit’s theme was “Reduce! Curb packaging, Use bio-materials and Do Green Business” and focused on packaging reduction policies and instruments including eco-design and labeling, and green public procurement. The briefing on the EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive and related German policy documents and guidelines, was presented by Mr. Jaeckel, Head of the Product-related Environmental Protection, Standardisation, Green Procurement Division of the BMU.
After gaining knowledge from and exchanging practices with Germany during the visit, PCD expects to develop criteria for green procurement for packaging to be implemented in government offices.
The Thailand Single-Use Plastic Reduction Roadmap plans to ban oxo-plastic and other unnecessary plastic goods. It aims to reduce 50% of packaging waste by 2025 and 55% by 2030. Plastic packaging reduction, increase of product recyclability and the use of recycled material are central environmental criteria for the Thai Green Label.
“Implementing the green policy in government offices alone will not be enough to achieve the goal we have set. The engagement of the private sector is indispensable. ‘Lab of Tomorrow (LoT)’, a GIZ global project, will facilitate the development of private sector-driven solutions to challenges as part of the follow-up to the visit. In the Thailand context, it will work on “How we reduce, reuse or replace single use plastic in order to decrease plastic waste landing in rivers and oceans in Thailand.” Mr. Pralong Damrongthai, the Director General of PCD.
The project brings together Thai and European businesses, start-ups, academia and government agencies from diverse backgrounds to co-create and ultimately aims to develop and implement viable business models within this year. The initial workshop to identify the challenges in green packaging procurement in the business sector was held in June 2019.
SCP Outreach in Asia – The Next Five
Taking the occasion of Thailand’s ASEAN presidency in 2019, PCD hopes to officially launch the “SCP Outreach” project to support five countries, namely Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Vietnam and Bhutan in developing eco-labelling and green government procurement in their countries in September 2019.