China and Thailand are fighting plastic pollution right now

Ever since it has been identified as the world’s largest manufacturer of plastic, China began increasing its restrictions on single-use plastics. The National Development and Reform Commission, in accordance with the Ministry of Ecology and Environment issued a new policy, several weeks ago, banning the use of plastic bags in all major cities by the end of 2020, with smaller towns and cities required to implement the same regulations by 2022.

Plastic straws will also have to be phased out in major cities by the end of this year, and the restaurant industry will be required to reduce single-use plastic consumption by at least 30% in towns and smaller cities before 2025. Other disposable items, such as plastic cutlery and one-off food containers, are also supposed to be included in the phase out as soon as possible.

Another way of increasing these recycling rates will be opening and implementing an increasing number of “comprehensive resource utilization” facilities across the country.

Another country that has started to phase out these types of plastics is Thailand. By the end of this year, plastics that dissolve into micro particles, such as plastic bags, Styrofoam, cups, straws and other single use plastic is supposed to be banned by 2022.

In an effort to do their part to fight and reduce global plastic pollution, Thailand has put forward an audacious plan for reducing the production of plastic. 43 sizable companies have come aboard to partner with 33 state and municipal departments and ministries to make Thailand’s Roadmap on Plastic Waste Management 2018-30.

Microbeads, cap seals, and oxo-degradable plastics are just three of the proposed reductions, and the bans on these objects are supposed to be introduced before the year’s end. By 2021, an all-encompassing ban on single-use plastic bags will be implemented. The government is instructing the public to prepare for the change.

“We will be collaborating with 43 private companies in crafting out plastic ban guidelines, so I would like to tell all Thais to prepare paper or cloth bags before Thailand imposes its ban on single-use plastic bags in 2021.”

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa

By 2022, the roadmap sets an aim to set up bans for lightweight plastic bags less than 36 microns thick, polystyrene food containers, plastic cups, and plastic straws. The bans are trying to reduce plastic waste in its most harmful manifestations— Styrofoam and small plastic objects that degrade into microparticles. Airborne microplastic particles were found in a study to be flying over a remote mountain top in the Pyrenees, at a rate of 400 particles per minute, and polystyrene foam has the longest half-life of any plastic that is used often by an average human.

“So far, we have relied mostly on landfill as it is the cheapest way to manage waste,” Supant Mongkolsuthree, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), told Bangkok Post. “But waste-to-energy technologies have become better and cheaper as well. Their effectiveness in managing waste is high and can be expanded in many areas.”

“Consumers have to play their part in taking care of the environment,” he continues “For small vendors, plastic bags and containers are still the most cost-efficient choice. Consumers have to say no to them so that these businesses realize they have no choice but to adapt themselves.”