As we have widely reported yesterday, January 1st, 2020 started a ban on single use plastic bags across Thailand as 75 retailers signed an agreement to stop providing them for free in an effort to reduce the amount of plastic waste in Thailand.
Here is one of our original articles on the subject:
Yesterday afternoon and evening The Pattaya News sent mystery shoppers and reporters to a variety of participating retailers in Pattaya to see how the compliance to the new rules were.
The results were mixed, to say the least.
Out of ten 7-11 locations visited only two were not providing plastic bags for free. Additionally, staff seemed confused on the policy and the moment customers could be seen arguing or upset they were not offered a bag the staff would give them one. Chinese tourists in particular appeared confused and upset over the policy and were seen arguing with staff through difficult language barriers at several locations.
We did notice several shoppers, mostly Thai Nationals, bringing their own reusable bags in which had been rare in the past. The level of communication in Thai media has been high, with nearly 90 percent of Thais saying in recent nationwide polls they were aware of the policy change and supported it.
Policies seemed to differ from one location to another with 7-11 which would make sense with different franchise owners, etc. It appears the majority were not offering bags for sale and that paper bags were in short supply. It was suggested by one staff member that they were working on getting rid of their current stock of plastic bags before completely adhering to the new policy.
We visited two Big C locations in the Pattaya area and both were following the new policy. Big C offers plastic bags for sale, along with reusable bags. The bags ranged from 3 baht up to 27 baht depending on the size of the plastic bag. From our observations the majority of customers did not have a problem with the small extra fee and many plastic bags were being sold.
We visited 4 Family Mart locations. 2 were still giving away plastic bags and 2 were not. At one of the locations that were not an enterprising food vendor was selling plastic bags outside the entrance to tourists for 5 baht a bag as it appeared no reasonable alternative to not having bags were provided.
The Pattaya News understands that this will be a difficult change for many and that it will take time for everyone to be on the same page. We believe that reasonable alternatives should be provided or at the least to charge for plastic for those who wish to have a bag. We witnessed many customers cutting back on the amount of their purchases if they were not offered any sort of bag.
Language barriers and communication issues were also rampant, especially amongst Chinese and Russian customers we witnessed as the majority don’t speak English or Thai and were not aware of the policy change. Placing signage in the stores in their native languages would be recommended to help alleviate confusion and stress on the staff.
Together, we can all begin to make an impact. It will take some time and may be a rocky road but the path is there.