BANGKOK, 1 November 2019: The Tourism Authority of Thailand has launched a waste reduction, recycling and clean-up project designed to tackle the plastic crisis at tourist areas and over time achieve zero waste at resort destinations.
Launched in cooperation with Unilever Corporation, the TRASH (Tourism to Recycling Actions for the Schools and Homes) Project will start with the beach resort of Krabi as a trial project that could lead to it being adopted at tourist destinations across the country.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed 29 October by the Office of the TAT Governor executive director Chutathip Chareonlarp, Unilever Thailand head Robert Candelino and Krabi City deputy mayor, Channarong Leelaburanapong.
The project appears to place the blame and responsibility on both tourists and local residents for the millions of tonnes of discarded waste ranging from shampoo bottles and detergent packaging to consumer product containers such as toothpaste and confectionery.
The TAT press statement suggests the responsibility and solution lies with hotels, schools or homes as “all this waste either lands up in landfills or the canals, rivers or the sea, impacting on the quality of destinations and affecting the local quality of life.”
But that ignores the source of the single-use containers or packages such as corporations like Unilever that create the packaging without investing adequately in a sustainable disposal solution.
Unilever is not without blame. Containers heading for the landfill are generated by corporations like Unilever, and they should recognise that they are responsible for ensuring throwaway containers can be disposed of without damaging the environment. Corporations are not assuming a fair share of responsibility or a more equable portion of the disposal cost.
However, Unilever has committed to a target to ensure that its packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025 and to use at least 25% recycled plastic in its packaging by 2025.
A critical Greenpeace report accuses Nestlé and Unilever of being responsible for a quarter of the branded throwaway plastic driving the plastic pollution crisis in Southeast Asia.
“Once again, this report suggests that although countries in Southeast Asia are being blamed for the plastic pollution crisis, the responsibility lies with multinational corporations like Nestlé and Unilever that continue to expand their production of unnecessary throwaway plastic at the expense of our communities, waterways, and health.” Greenpeace stated in a report last March: “Nestlé and Unilever need to stop deflecting the blame for plastic pollution onto individuals. These companies are responsible for this crisis, and the only solution is for them to significantly reduce the production of throwaway plastics and move toward refill and reuse systems for their customers throughout the world. It’s time to reject overconsumption and the corporations that continue to sell it to us.”