At least 43 shopping malls and department stores nationwide have agreed to stop providing plastic bags starting in January.
To support plans to ban several types of single-use plastics by 2021 – plastic bags, plastic cups, plastic straws and Styrofoam containers – a top natural resources official told Coconuts Bangkok today that the commitments come from the nation’s top retailers.
“The participating stores are all Thailand’s biggest names including 7-Eleven, Central, HomePro, Big C and more,” Warawut told Coconuts Bangkok today. “We know it’ll be a little inconvenient for customers at first but I believe it is an important measure to work towards our goal and to really make a difference,” said Warawut Silpa-archa, a cabinet member and minister of natural resources.
After major convenience stores and shopping malls eliminate plastic bags, the ministry next year will ask the food and beverage industry – including fresh markets, community markets and small retail stalls – to stop distributing plastic bags as well, Warawut said earlier this week.
The ministry hopes to introduce legislation to ban all single-use plastic in two years.
The Mall Group, a large mall operator behind Emporium, Siam Paragon, EmQuartier and Gourmet Market, is just one of the retailers to join the ban. Other retailers joining the campaign are Central Department Stores and 7-Eleven owner CP All.
Woralak Tulaporn, the group’s chief marketing officer, said Wednesday at a launch event that it would be the first mall owner to start eliminating plastic bags this year. She told reporters that, since July, every one of its malls around the nation, including the Bluport Hua Hin Resort mall, Emporium and Siam Paragon have stopped providing free plastic bags and now charge customers THB1 for each.
They’ve also established a fast track “Green Lane” for customers that bring their own reusable bags. Other retailers to join the campaign were not specified.
Warawut said that the campaign has so far resulted in the reduction of 1.8 billion plastic bags being used. He did not explain how the ministry came up with that number.
It remains to be seen how adaptable consumers will be and whether the campaigns will be stringently followed or sustained.
But it’s part of growing efforts to rein in plastic use since malls and stores across Thailand dropped them for one day in December for National Environmental Day to reduce plastic waste and raise awareness regarding the pressing issue.
Some retailers and supermarkets have introduced occasional bag-free days and ramping up their frequency from monthly to weekly in a bid to nudge habits.
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