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Phuket's waste grows at an enormous rate at Saphan Hin dump

Plastic Phuket: More Work Needed, Says Engineer

Tuesday, January 12, 2010
FAR MORE education is needed before plastic bags can be eradicated on Phuket, the engineer in charge of separating plastic waste from other rubbish on Phuket said today.

Phitsanu Noysawank is manager of a 40-million-baht-plus recycling project that is designed to reduce waste and reuse compressed landfill at the island's spreading Saphan Hin trash dumping grounds.

Under the project, old, buried waste is being dug up and the plastic separated from burnable and reusable organic materials.

''It's good to hear an attempt is being made to improve the situation by banning plastic bags,'' Khun Phitsanu said. ''But a lot more work is needed before real change comes.''

His plan involves a hopper system of separation that creates compost for gardens plus other organic material that decomposes over time, even creating gas that can be harvested.

''Some electricity can also be created, but of course it's high-cost electricity,'' he said.

Behind the island's single incinerator, which can only burn a portion of the island's waste, the Saphan Hin dumping ground has been remade, with huge levee banks being erected to hold vast ''vats'' of trash.

In most places, the switch to limit plastic bag usage has come about with the introduction of the reduce, reuse, recycle mantra.

''It's not possible to ban plastic bags yet,'' Khun Phitsanu said. ''What will people use instead to contain their rubbish?''

While plastic only accounts for about 10 percent of waste, it's waste that does not biodegrade and therefore, in an environmentally friendly century, has come to represent unnecessary packaging.

If the charge for plastic bags is introduced before a public education campaign about the three Rs - reduce, reuse and recycle - organisers run the risk of a backlash among customers at supermarket checkouts.

Some shoppers already view it as an unreasonable ''tax'' that benefits the supermarkets and could actually lead to people disposing of trash in less healthy ways.

Tesco-Lotus and Carrefour are the major supermarkets that have yet to agree to the two-baht surcharge on plastic bags, although Carrefour has been promoting the sale of reusable non-plastic bags for a long time.

Little has been seen or heard yet in the Thai or English language about the impending program, the first of its kind in Thailand.

Carrefour store manager at the Jungceylon outlet in Patong, Punthila Puripreecha, said the decision would be made in Bangkok, although support had already been expressed for the province's innovation.

What worried her was the lack of any promition yet about the campaign, which is due to begin on February 14.

''If it is not carefully explained in the meantime, customers are likely to be very unhappy,'' she said.

''We are prepared to devote energy to the project, but there has been very little news about it so far.''
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Comments have been disabled for this article.


this is funny the guy says some plastic bags are required to put the trash in...first you can use bags made from recycled plastic, second there are many other materials which can be used....the recycling guy should know that.

Posted by Sid on January 15, 2010 12:02

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