At present, it is heartening to see that in our daily lives, we have opened up a dialogue and are now collaboratively seeking solutions to environmental problems. This is especially true for the issue of waste, which has exerted tremendous impact on not only humans and animals but also the world as a whole and would be impossible to overcome without the cooperation of everyone in the community and proper management approaches.
Apart from encouraging people to make the most of their resources as a habit, “waste sorting,” which helps put useful materials back into the recycling process, is another important mechanism that will lead to a sustainable solution to waste management. To promote this practice, SCG initiated an internal circular waste management project called the Bang Sue Model in 2018. This project has been expanded to communities across Rayong with the goal of passing on knowledge of waste management to local people, where it is adapted to the context of each community, and led to the birth of the Waste-free Community Project, which seeks to apply the principles of the circular economy to daily life.
In 2018, Rayong generated over 306,000 tons of waste, which translated to a staggering THB 328 million in waste disposal expenses. Furthermore, only 7% of this amount was recycled. Therefore, SCG has aimed to increase this number by educating and encouraging the public to take up the habit of sorting waste as well as creating engagement through three short and memorable slogans: #resourcemaximization #wastesorting #properdisposal.
Schools: Incubators of eco-conscious young minds
Cultivating good habits from a young age will help children grow into quality citizens, and it is the duty of schools to foster not only academically excellence and but also social responsibility and eco-consciousness of their students. SCG has collaborated with Khod Hin Mitraphap 42 School to set up learning stations. This program is focused on introducing students to various types of materials, especially plastics, how to maximize usage, sort, and repurpose them for maximum functionality. Additionally, it also encourages good daily habits, such as sorting classroom waste, bringing lunch in reusable containers, minimizing food scraps, so that these routines become habits since childhood and they can educate and drive change in their families as well.
One of the learning stations is Milk Pouch for a Greener World, which is aimed at alleviating the wastage created by the immense number of discarded milk pouches at the school. Once students have finished their milk, they rinse the empty pouches at the learning station and hang up to dry. These pouches, made from LLDPE, once dried and cleaned, can be sold, hence turning trash into financial resources for the school. Wastewater from rinsing is then transferred to and treated in a grease trap, yielding clean water for the school’s farms, achieving a closed-loop recycling system.
Temples: Getting through to adults
In Thai society, temples are the centers of communities and therefore the ideal channel for reaching out to adults and seniors, beginning with fostering awareness of the issue stemming from the amount of single-use plastics that are used to bring food and alms for merit making, which then become a responsibility for the temple to manage. Realizing how their behavior cause these problem, it encourages them to reduce single-use plastics and aware that waste sorting are the responsibility of everyone in the community and therefore part of being a good Buddhist.
SCG has collaborated with the temple to educate community members about different types of plastics packaging and how to clean and sort them for sell through the “Spread Merit with Plastic Sorting” program, in which people help rinse, dry and sort plastic waste properly for the temple to sell and use the proceeds to develop facilities or as scholarships for novice monks. Participants also gain knowledge that they can apply in their own homes.
Home: The Heart of Daily Life
Aside from awareness and understanding of each family members, having a strong community leader is an important part of driving a program toward success. In Khod Hin 2 community, Jumlong Homhuan is not only community president and advocate for proper household waste sorting but also the inventor of the “Eco-Loop.” Homhuan assembles recycled scraps, such as old cables and nets, into well-ventilated draining receptacles and distributes them to others in the community to make sorting and cleaning plastics more convenient and, thus, encourage recycling, especially among housewives, who can then use their free time to make extra money for the family while reducing waste, bringing pride and useful skills to the community.
Community Waste Bank: Giving Value to Waste
Another important infrastructure that contributes to effective recycling is a community waste bank, which connects waste sellers to recyclers. Based on field research into the needs of community waste banks, SCG has designed the “KoomKah application” to help with data management and to facilitate fast, easy transactions. It helps record and organize data on the category and quantity of recyclables in a systematic way to help waste banks manage transactions and transportation efficiently. Waste banks are able to calculate earnings for each transaction and manage user information, such as sales history and point collection and redemption, on a single platform, allowing community waste banks to standardize operations and increase direct sales of various materials to recyclers and smelters and, thus, facilitate and strengthen public interest in selling recyclables.
For more information on the application “KoomKah,” please e-mail email@example.com or go to LINE @koomkah
Municipalities: Empowering Communities
Government agencies have also played a part in promoting waste separation at the community level. Map Ta Phut Municipality has collaborated with community waste banks in their network to offer a “life insurance” incentive granting funeral funds to those who consistently deposit recyclables at participating waste banks in their communities. This is another important way to motivate community members to adopt more sustainable waste management practices.
All of the aforementioned success could not have happened and cannot continue without understanding, good conscience, and cooperation from everyone in caring for our planet through sustainable solutions. It can be seen from the changes at every community level. These community initiatives provide the perfect momentum for the effective waste management practices at bigger levels, from provincial to national to global, as it’s easy to begin the process in daily life. We just need to evaluate our own habits, find the right waste management system for us, and start acting now to contribute to the development of Thai society towards sustainability.