The “Upcycling the Oceans, Thailand” project has three key organizations: the TAT, PTTGC, and ECOALF Foundation, joining together to address the problem of plastic waste in the sea at Koh Samet

(September 1, 2017) – Gen. Surasak Kanjanarat, Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment; Mr. Teerawat Sudsook, Deputy Governor of Rayong province;  Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT);  Mr. Supattanapong Punmeechaow, President & Chief Executive Officer of PTT Global Chemical Public Company Limited (PTTGC); and Mr. Javier Goyeneche, Founder and CEO of the ECOALF Foundation, joined together at Khao Laem Ya - Mu Koh Samet National Park, Rayong, to launch an initiative to collect plastic waste from the sea under the “Upcycling The Oceans, Thailand” project. It promotes the collection and management of plastic waste in Thailand’s coastal and marine tourist areas. Project activities include scuba divers collecting plastic waste from underwater as well as other volunteers collecting plastic waste from beaches. Bins and bin bags distributed at the national park and in Rayong province will also promote the collection and segregation of plastic waste to transform it into new value-added products.

Gen. Surasak Kanjanarat, Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, said, “The problem of plastic waste in the sea has become a major environmental issue, both in Thailand and around the world. It causes tremendous damage to the marine ecosystem and the environment. Human activities including tourism, fishing, and shipping inevitably generate immense amounts of plastic waste that ends up in the seas and oceans, which can have significant impact on marine life. This is why the ministry continually introduces proactive measures to reduce the amount of waste in the sea, particularly around islands that are popular with tourists. Other threats to coastal and marine resources include dumping litter and other types of waste into the sea, feeding fish, and anchor damage to coral reefs, all of which are monitored and supervised by the ministry to promote the appropriate use of natural resources. Key nature conservation principles include using natural resources in a balanced and sustainable way while reducing consumption to minimize environmental damage. The ‘Upcycling the Oceans, Thailand’ project supports the Thai cabinet’s efforts to address waste disposal that are outlined in Thailand’s 20-year national strategic roadmap and the 12th National Economic and Social Development Plan. The waste problem is also an international issue and can only be properly addressed through cooperation with others to collect litter and plastic waste found in marine, coastal, and island tourist destinations and transforming this waste into value-added products. We expect the project will significantly reduce the amount of plastic waste in the seas off Thailand by over 10 tons during 2017.”

Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, said, “The environmental deterioration of marine tourist spots and plastic waste in the sea ruin marine ecosystems and have a detrimental effect on Thailand’s popular marine tourist destinations. Over time, a lack of systemized waste disposal practices can worsen Thailand’s tourism competitiveness. Tourism is a key industry that brings revenue to the country, so the TAT, in collaboration with PTTGC and the ECOALF Foundation, decided to initiate the ‘Upcycling the Oceans, Thailand’ project to tackle the problem of plastic waste in Thai seas in a sustainable manner. The project involves activities for the conservation of Thailand’s seas while promoting responsible tourism, such as disposing waste in appropriate locations, and collecting waste from the beach and the sea. The project’s pilot areas are Samet Island in Rayong province on Thailand’s eastern seaboard, Tao and Samui Islands in the Gulf of Thailand off Surat Thani province, and Phuket on the Andaman coast, all popular tourist destinations. We are confident this collaboration to conduct systematic waste management practices in these marine, coastal, and island tourist destinations, along with a campaign to raise stakeholders’ awareness about environmental conservation, will help protect and conserve the beauty and fertility of Thailand’s marine tourist areas.”

Mr. Supattanapong Punmeechaow, President & Chief Executive Officer of PTT Global Chemical Public Company Limited, said, “PTTGC is committed to operating our business in a sustainable manner while adopting the concept of the circular economy, focusing on the significance of the product life cycle as a way to promote more efficient and sustainable use of resources. This includes transforming unwanted products such as plastic waste into new value-added products to promote environmental sustainability while reducing our impact on the environment, in line with international environmental practices. The ‘Upcycling the Oceans, Thailand’ project is an integrated program that supports the circular economy concept by taking measures to tackle the problem of plastic waste found in the sea and putting it to good use to create a better ecosystem. These measures include collecting both PET and PE plastic waste such as bags and bottles, then using eco-friendly technologies to transform them into value-added clothes and fashionable products. The ‘Upcycling the Oceans, Thailand’ project is expected to play a pivotal role in addressing marine environmental issues while creating maximum value from the plastic waste. This aligns with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, especially Goal 14: Life Below Water, which encourages the management, conservation, and rehabilitation of marine and coastal ecosystems and preventing and reducing marine pollution.”

Mr. Javier Goyeneche, Founder and CEO of the ECOALF Foundation, said, “The ECOALF Foundation is very pleased that Thailand has realized the problem of plastic waste in the sea and its environmental impact, so is the first country in Asia to proactively implement the ‘Upcycling the Oceans, Thailand’ project. We have joined with proactive allies the TAT and PTTGC to conduct systematic waste management for the sea, collecting and transforming plastic waste into new clothes and fashion items. The project is integrated with local agencies and communities, and owners and operators of waste segregation facilities in targeted areas. We aim to start the plastic waste collection process on Koh Samet in September 2017, transforming it into raw materials such as fiber and plastic resins by the beginning of 2018.”

The “Upcycling the Oceans, Thailand” project runs for three years, from 2017 to 2019. The first year will focus on education and promoting the concept of responsible tourism while conducting waste management activities such as collecting, segregating, and transforming plastic waste. It then uses innovative eco-friendly technology in a production process to transform the raw material during the project’s second year. Ultimately, the raw materials made from the plastic waste removed from the sea will be transformed into stylish fashion items and accessories.