Thailand aims to reduce plastic in the seas by 50 percent in the next nine years and to cut down the use of plastic bags among the Thai people to only two bags per person per day instead of an average of eight plastic bags a day, said Mr Chatuporn Burutpat, director-general of Marine and Coastal Resources Department, on Saturday.
Citing the recent death of a pilot whale in the sea of Songkhla after having swallowed eight kilogrammes of plastic bags into its stomach as an inspiration for change about the use of plastic bags, he said the department had mapped out short-term, medium-term and long-term measures to cut back the amount of trash dumped into seas.
According to plan, the short-term measure concerns cooperation among Asean member countries to reduce the amount of trash in the seas in the region as agreed at a meeting held in November last year. Mr Chatuporn said his department would cooperation with civic groups to solve the problem of garbage on beaches.
The medium-term measure aims to make 24 important beaches in 15 coastal provinces free from trash and cigarette butts which will help save life of rare marine species many of which have died from swallowing plastic bags floating in the sea.
The long-term measure envisages cooperation between government and private sectors and the people's sector in the management of garbage and the use of plastic in a sustainable fashion with an aim to reduce garbage in the seas by half in nine years from now.
According to statistics, Thai people use about 45,000 million plastic bags each year or an average of eight bags each day for each individual. 80 percent of the garbage in seas originated from land and 30 percent of plastic garbage or 300,000-400,000 tonnes of plastic trash found their way into the seas.
Mr Chatuporn said campaign launched by the department in cooperaton with local administration bodies to reduce the use of plastic bags in 23 coastal provinces had received good cooperation from traders.
Another campaign to reduce cigarette butts or cigarette filters on 24 beaches in 15 coastal provinces has been warmly welcomed by local people and business operators.
According to the Pollution Control Department's information about garbage in 2016, of the 10.78 million tonnes of garbage generated in 23 coastal provinces, about 1.3 million tonnes were plastic trash and 74 percent them were properly disposed of with the remaining being washed into seas.
18 percent of the garbage found in seas are plastic bags followed by plastic bottles, 17 percent; plastic cups, 11 percent; polystyrene foam, 9 percent; plastic straws, 5 percent; plastic chords, 4 percent.
Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (ThaiPBS)