PHUKET, 10 September, 2018: Phuket Hotels Association says it has achieved a major victory that will see supermarkets and shopping malls abolish free plastic bag handouts to customers on the island.
It’s the first tangible result of a campaign to cut plastic garbage on the island that has reached crisis proportions and threatens the island’s marine life and tourism appeal.
The announcement comes as the association is preparing to host the inaugural PHIST, or Phuket Hotels for Islands Sustaining Tourism Forum 2018, that will be held at JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa, 24 September.
Members of the Phuket Hotels Association are leading a campaign to tackle a major waste disposal crisis linked to the tons of plastic discarded daily by tourists visiting the island.
The group announced at the weekend that Thailand’s major retailer and supermarket operator, Central Group, has pledged to end free plastic bag distribution at its Phuket outlets.
The retail giant brings to the table branded shopping malls Central Department Store, Robinson Department Store, the Tops Supermarket and Family Mart convenience stores.
The joint initiative with the Phuket Hotels Association, will see Central Phuket’s customers pay for reusable bags made by residents of local orphanages or shelter homes.
Proceeds from the sale of these environmentally friendly bags will go directly to “disadvantaged Phuket residents” who made them.
The PHIST forum will feature keynote speakers, topical talks and technical workshops on how to tackle pollution and bring under control a runaway growth in tourism that has failed to take into account local community sentiments and urgently needs to be replaced with a more sustainable model.
The free event should attract around 500 delegates, many of them investors and key players in the fast paced development that got Phuket where it is today.
“Central Group is Thailand’s largest and leading retail group, so its pledge to significantly reduce the use of plastic bags is hugely significant,” said Phuket Hotels Association president, Anthony Lark. “This is a wonderful example of cross-sectoral collaboration, as two of Phuket’s biggest industries – tourism and retail – come together for the benefit of the entire island.”
Central Phuket’s senior vice president, Wilaiporn Pitimanaaree, added: “Plastic waste is one of the biggest problems facing the world today, especially in coastal destinations like Phuket. So we are delighted to partner with PHIST and the Phuket Hotels Association to help cut plastic waste on the island.”
Approximately 5 million plastic bags will make their way into the world’s oceans this year alone*. This presents a huge problem for the environment – especially the estimated 100,000 marine creatures that die from plastic entanglement every year**. Even the plastic bags that don’t end up in the sea will usually be dumped in landfill sites. Some plastic bags can take 1,000 years to decompose.