Immersion in Thailand

 

In November, the French embassy in Bangkok invited us over to Thailand to prepare our future stopover. The aim was to understand how waste management was performed and the biggest challenges of the country on this topic. We met with a lot of stakeholders working in the recycling sector, we were able to exchange ideas with some universities undertaking research on plastic pollution and waste management, and were also allowed to visit state-owned landfills as well as many collection and sorting centers.

Immersion in Thailand

 

In November, the French embassy in Bangkok invited us over to Thailand to prepare our future stopover. The aim was to understand how waste management was performed and the biggest challenges of the country on this topic. We met with a lot of stakeholders working in the recycling sector, we were able to exchange ideas with some universities undertaking research on plastic pollution and waste management, and were also allowed to visit state-owned landfills as well as many collection and sorting centers.

See the below pictures:

The Moken tribe: forgotten sea nomads

Koh Lao island, Thailand.

The Moken tribe, a people of sea nomads, fish sea cucumber for a living. Nowadays, waste collection is also one of their daily activities: they can sell the plastic to a network of distributors that eventually resell it as raw material to recycling industries. The price that they can sell the collected plastic for is a variable and depends on the state of the plastic and the current market price. Only plastic from certain categories is recycled (namely PET). If the number of stakeholders willing to valorize its use would increase, we could certainly expect that more and more plastic would be able to serve a second purpose and allow more and more people to earn a living from its collection.

Social enterprise of waste management

Ranong city, Thailand.

This recycling center allows to stock waste picked up wastepickers* on the streets every morning. It was built as a social enterprise. A great example of combining job creation and waste management in the city.

*People living from waste collection.

Waste management in Bangkok

Bangkok, Thailand.

This center for waste disposal manages over 10500 tons of garbage bins generated by the capital on a daily basis.
Waste are hand-picked so PET can be collected, a few cans and all glass bottles. Work conditions are precarious and sadly, almost all of the waste is eventually buried underground.
This could definitely be avoided if people would separate their household waste upriver.

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