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Phuket plastic bag MOU: Tesco, 7-11 continue hold-out

Legacy Phuket Gazette



PHUKET: Tesco-Lotus and 7-Eleven remain among the few major Phuket retailers yet to sign an agreement to begin charging customers a nominal fee for plastic bags, it was announced during a meeting at Phuket Provincial Hall on Friday.

The meeting, chaired by Phuket Vice Gov Teerayut Eimtrakul and three of the project leaders, was attended by representatives of island retailers that have already signed on.

Villa Market is the latest Phuket retailer to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreeing to charge customers for plastic bags: two baht for plastic bags over five liters in volume and one baht for smaller ones.

Phuket Energy Office Director Jirasuk Tummawetch said he was pleased Villa Market signed on voluntarily, without a request from his office.

Store manager Udom Chiangyos said, “We signed the MOU ourselves because we always campaign for reduction in the number of plastic bags. We have always produced cloth bags and made them available to our customers, but not many bring them back when they come shopping again…. I admit that a lot of plastic bags are used in the supermarket. I think this scheme will be good for Phuket.”

It is understood that Villa Market is independently planning to start charging customers at its branches in Bangkok for plastic bags.

Villa Market’s addition to the MOU increases to 24 the number of retailers who have signed up thus far:

Big C; Robinson Ocean; Robinson Ocean Jungceylon; Robinson Ocean Central; Ocean Shopping Mall Phuket; Ocean Plaza Patong; Big One; Supercheap; Siam Family Mart; Phuket Grocery; Index Living Mall; SB Furniture; 108 Shops; CP Fresh Mart; Central Festival; Central Department Store; Power Buy; Super Sport; B2S; Office Depot; Tops Supermarket; HomeWorks; Jungceylon; Villa Market.

HomePro and the Premium Outlet Mall are expected to sign soon.

Tesco-Lotus, Carrefour and 7-Eleven have yet to sign on.

The Gazette understands that Carrefour is carefully considering signing the MOU, but first wants to see what action Tesco-Lotus takes, if any.

Project leader Nick Anthony said there was ‘no reason whatsoever’ for the retailers not to go along with the project. Having all the retailers on board for the project launch would give it additional strength on launch day, he said.

Organizers attended a three-hour meeting this morning to discuss preparations that will feature a three-day launch exhibit February 13 to 15 at Central Festival Phuket. Some 40 to 50 organizations are expected to take part.

The Phuket Provincial Office will issue a press release soon, listing all retailers who have yet to sign the MOU, he said.

The project will get its formal launch on February 14 with a speech by Phuket Governor Preecha Phraisa-ngop.

The organizers hope that the plastic bag charge – the first of its kind in Thailand – will lead to a reduction in the number of plastic bags entering the waste stream and needing to be ‘landfilled’ behind the incinerator at Saphan Hin, where the pile of garbage continues to increase at a rate of about 300 hundred tonnes daily.

They also hope it will be the first in a number of steps aimed at reducing the amount of solid waste at the source and promoting re-use and recycling.

— P. Choksakulpan & S. Fein


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