In Thailand plastic bans are controversial among traders

World Today


There’s rarely been such widespread agreement as there currently is over the need to cut plastic waste. It’s a global problem, particularly in the world’s oceans. However, some people aren’t too keen on banning plastic, saying getting rid of things like plastic bags just isn’t practical. 

CGTN’s Martin Lowe filed this report from Thailand to examine the region’s controversial point of view on plastic.

Follow Martin Lowe on Twitter @MartinLoweTV

Plastic bags, for so long, have been seen as one of life’s essentials. In Thailand, they’re handed out more than perhaps anywhere else in the world.

Klong Toei is Bangkok’s largest, fresh food market. It’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Fish, meat, ice, fruit, vegetables, and a host of other products are wrapped in the market, and it’s thought tens of thousands of plastic bags are dispensed there daily.

Globally, countries are uniting to cut the use of plastic, which is seen as a major polluter. However, on the market’s shopping front line, traders and buyers all say there’s no alternative.

“If we don’t use plastic bags what else can we use? A cloth bag? No, we can’t,” Fish seller Valana Tinpae said. “A paper bag can be torn even with vegetables because they are wet. Fruit can go in a cloth bag, but not fish like this. It cannot!”

“What can we replace plastic with? It would have to be a box and the cost would increase, right?” Meat seller Panida Sangchan said.

Thailand is one of five Asian countries that, between them, are responsible for half the plastic waste that’s washed into the world’s oceans.

Marine life pays the highest price. In southern Thailand, a pilot whale choked to death with 80 plastic bags in its stomach.

The Thai government is targeting markets in a campaign to cut the country’s use of 45 billion plastic bags a year by almost half. While few would deny the need to reduce plastic waste, here they’re asking: ‘What else can do the job ?’

It’s an inconvenient truth in a world where plastic, though cheap and convenient, has been declared the enemy.