A THAI company has initiated a plan to collect non-biodegradable plastic bags and turn them into something useful, such as bags to carry fruit.
The idea is part of a corporate social responsibility by Schneider Electric Thailand. The firm hopes to not only make plastic bags reusable, but to also reduce the amount of plastic waste that is discarded every day.
An estimated 1,800 tonnes of plastic waste is generated in Bangkok and some 360 million plastic bags are dumped a day, according to the Pollution Control Department (PCD).
Figures from studies around the world suggest it would take up to 450 years or even 1,000 years for a single plastic bag to decompose, depending on the type of plastic each bag is made of.
“This is the reason why we initiated the project and will focus on collecting non-biodegradable plastic shopping bags, as it takes a huge amount of time for the bags to decompose,” said Pattaraporn Viradanont, head of marketing communications and digital customer experience at Schneider Electric.
“Instead of throwing them away, we can add more value to them and make them reusable in a more attractive form. In this case, we turn them into fruit-carrier-bags and give them as gifts to people during festivals or season greetings.”
At the start of the project, Schneider Electric Thailand has chosen to work with the EcoCraft Design Workshop & Voluntourism group, an OTOP community in Suan Phueng district in Ratchaburi province to produce a fruit-carrier-bag from non-biodegradable bags. The collaboration also aims to create a sense of responsibility – and jobs – for people in the community.
The company has urged employees to collect and bring plastic shopping bags to join with the project.
A single fruit-carrier-bag is made from at least 20 plastic shopping bags.
Pattaraporn said: “The project is, in fact, quite small but we’re aiming for something bigger in return. We would like to remind people and to build up better understanding on how we can bit by bit save the environment. The more we can reduce non-degradable plastic waste, the more we help reduce potential of greenhouse gas effects.”
The initiative is in line with Schneider Electric’s movement at the global level as the company has an environmental policy common to all its entities. As a global specialist in energy management and automation, the company has been working on the technological innovation “Green Plastic Programme”.
The move aims to develop next generation plastic with a view to improving health profiles as well as to minimise the environmental impact in order to offer products and solutions today in accordance with the principles of sustainable development.
The Green Plastic Programme is carried out in collaboration with businesses and teams in charge of material purchasing and design, and is part of the group’s actions for sustainable development.
Schneider has conducted research on what it called recyclable “green” bio-plastics manufactured from materials that are environmentally sound, using waste-free processes and renewable resources – for example, cellulose.
Life cycle assessments demonstrate that biosource plastics — recycled or vegetable-based — can now technically replace existing solutions, improving health and limiting resource depletion. Schneider Electric is conducting tests to transition to biosource plastics for its switches and other basic products.
The direction of long-term research is biomass, from which it will produce tomorrow’s plastics through bio-refining. The findings of its research must be both environmentally sound and economical.