When I joined Climate Tracker’s media research project on single-use plastics, Bangkok was partially under lockdown again. Ordering food and goods from delivery apps also became the new normal for city dwellers.
How many pieces of plastic packaging do we consume in a day? How can consumers help reduce plastic litter during the pandemic? These were my questions while I was conducting the research for this project.
According to my media research, Thai journalists agree that recycling is the best solution to address plastic pollution. But systematic waste management alone is not enough to tackle the pollution since 91 percent of plastics do not get recycled. Aside from the fact that waste-sorting is time-consuming — especially for those in the lower social classes who are busy making ends meet every day — it also compels people to undertake the burden of waste management as a result of Thailand not having concrete and cohesive measures to curb plastic waste.
For instance, the term “extended producer responsibility” — a policy approach where producers have a responsibility to treat and dispose of post-consumer products — appeared with very brief explanations in only a few articles sampled in my research. I was also a little surprised by the number of plastic stories listed under the business section that have no investigation how sustainable these initiatives really are.
In the long-term, I hope to see journalists implement an intersectional approach as well as scrutinize the sustainability of recycling industries and plastic businesses that claim to address plastic pollution. These stories will help readers understand complicated plastic issues and shape plastic debates in Thai society.
Want to learn more about media coverage of plastics in Southeast Asia? Check out our full report and tune into our podcast ⬇️⬇️.This was made possible due to our partnership with Break Free from Plastic.