The prime minister agreed to the proposal after all sectors collectively recommending 4 approaches to tackle waste crisis at “SD Symposium 2019” which include infrastructure overhaul to support waste management, promoting the business sector to manufacture products conducive to recycling and responsible scrap management, raising public awareness and strict law enforcement and penalties. The prime minister said that waste in the ocean is a mutual problem, affirming to incorporate the Circular Economy into one of the government’s policies. He also noted that the task is everyone’s business.
Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, disclosed, “The waste issue in Thailand has affected everyone across the world because we live in the same land, same ocean and breathe the same air. The waste issue requires everyone’s participation. The most important thing is the development to achieve the balance, which the government has secured in the past five years, and continued to do so. The Circular Economy is one of the solutions toward a balanced and sustainable country. Hence, the government has put it as one of the country’s priorities in the National Strategic Master Plan where the country development from now on will focus on sustainability and environmental stewardship to preserve it and pass on to the future generations. Besides, the government also embraces it as one of the government’s development policy for industrial development, ecosystem development to support new economies and environmental management system development.
Efficient waste management is a crucial factor in the transition toward the Circular Economy. It is essential that waste must be appropriately managed across the entire stage from waste separation, waste recycling, and waste disposal. The government has formulated strategic development plans to drive waste management practices i.e., National Solid Waste Management Master Plan (2016 – 2021), drafting the Roadmap for Plastic Waste Management (2018-2037). To achieve fruitful results, these efforts require the participation of all sectors to work under the integrated network.
“I am very pleased to see the efforts of all sectors brainstorming to seek a solution. The government will work on improving infrastructure and make it more conducive to businesses’ transition, coupled with encouraging consumer’s behavioral changes. Therefore, the business sector must focus on improving the manufacturing process as well as developing the business models that integrate innovations. The public sector must shift their behaviors by generating less waste, separating waste. For the waste collection, we should not mix waste together. We need to separate them. I’ll pass this to the Ministry of Interior to fix this problem.”
Dr. Sumet Tantivejkul, Vice Chairman of The Board of SCG, said, “Waste has impacted our lives in all dimensions. If there are no lives, there won’t be any waste issues. It is becoming a national crisis as we have about 28 million tons of waste in 2018, which is increased almost by 2 percent from 2017. It has led to waste overload, clogged drainage, and ocean waste pollution. We are lack of proper well-engineered waste disposal facilities which causes negative impacts to the people and animals, including affecting over 20% of national revenue. This is the national agenda where all sectors must take part to solve problems; thus, we need an efficient waste management system that has adequate capacity.
Today, “SD Symposium 10 Years: Collaboration for Action” has brought over 1,500 participants including waste generators, waste collectors, waste separators, and recyclers, together to brainstorm ways to manage waste problems. The symposium has concluded recommendations and presented a 4-point proposal to the prime minister for further action:
- Infrastructure overhaul to support waste management. The government agencies must promote the establishment of an efficient management system by launching a major push for infrastructure overhaul and budget allocation to support efficient and integrated waste management system like in Japan, Taiwan or Scandinavian countries, ranging from collection, separation, disposal, and recycling and make it a countrywide standard, especially in the communities near water sources like rivers and coastal areas. The government must facilitate wet and dry waste bins and increase garbage collection rates. Reduce landfills or adopt alternative ways such as turning waste into energy if those they cannot be appropriately recycled.
- Promoting the business sector to manufacture products conducive to recycling and responsible scrap management. The government must formulate the policy on eco-design recycling schemes to ensure recycling and value addition to waste as well as setting the bar for the industry to manufacture products with an appropriate proportion of recyclable materials by putting it a government’s procurement policy.
- Raising public awareness to encourage people to reduce waste generation and increase recycling. It requires participation of all sectors starting from household and school by ensuring the Circular Economy is included in relevant subject curriculum at all levels of education. The government, business sector and the media must proactively encourage the resource efficiency, waste separation of wet and recyclable waste, and prevention of waste dump into the water sources.
- Strict law enforcement and penalties. The government must promote the efficiency of household wet waste management, prompt waste collection schedule, enact the ban on dumping waste into water sources, supervise waste deposal facilities near the water sources to prevent waste entering the oceans as well as establishing regulations on packaging recycling label program to raise public awareness. The government must strictly enforce the law prohibiting waste dump into the water sources.
If the proposal is recognized and put into action, I believe that the waste crisis will be lessened and our children will live in a more livable world since we will make change together.”
The prime minister concluded, “Conclusively, the country development based on the Circular Economy under the integrated network of all sectors will boost the country’s competitiveness and economy expansion with less dependence on resources. This is to improve lives and society without passing a burden to our children. I, as the government leader, will bring what you share and brainstorm today to the relevant government agencies for further implementation as well as raising awareness among the public to together put it into action.”