Thailand is addicted to plastic, but here’s how it can kick the habit

THAILAND : Stepping out of the customs office in Maesai for entry into Thailand from the Myanmar border Tachileik, a sprawling local market is spread out along the road that’s perhaps the perfect example of proliferation of single-use plastic. Fruits and other perishable food items were all wrapped in thin, transparent plastic on display. If you bought an orange, the shopkeeper will invariably hand you the fruit inside a plastic bag and will give you another plastic packet with it. “Plastic inside another plastic, you lose your mind looking at that habit,” is how a European traveller explained, at the border.

Enter Bangkok, it’s 2 pm. Chinapa Jittipon materialises from a 7-Eleven store with two plastic bags for her lunch break. One carries a soft drink, the other holds her lunch: some fast food and a banana in its own plastic wrapper.

“Plastic bags are necessary for office life. I know that if it’s wrapped in a plastic bag, it will be clean and fresh,” said Jittipon, 34, whose consumption habits reflect the challenges facing anti-plastic campaigners in Thailand, where plastic bags are handed out without a second thought on any visit to a shop or market. Thailand’s relationship with plastic, notably single-use, is deep-rooted.