Upcycling the Oceans, Thailand

Turn Ocean’s Plastic Waste into Valuable Products

Background:

The “Upcycling the Oceans, Thailand” project is a collaborative initiative between three leading organizations, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), PTT Global Chemical Public Company Limited (GC), and the ECOALF Foundation. ECOALF is a non-profit organization that started the “Upcycling the Oceans” project in Spain. Since 2015, the project has been supported by Spanish fishermen’s associations as it transformed plastic waste from the Mediterranean Sea into fashionable items and accessories under the ECOALF brand.

The three organizations are committed to managing plastic waste in Thailand’s marine tourist areas. The project involves collecting and transforming discarded plastic waste into new value-added products through creative and eco-friendly methods while promoting responsible tourism to minimize the amount of waste in the seas around Thailand.

The project will also increase public awareness of and participation in Thailand’s efforts to deal with concerns about the growing amount of waste along the country’s popular coastal and tourist areas, including islands. Under the Upcycling the Oceans, Thailand project, PET and PE plastic waste, such as plastic bottles and bags found in the sea and in coastal areas, are collected and transformed into raw materials and produced into value-added clothing and fashionable products. This reflects the concept of the circular economy, which focuses on the importance of the product life cycle as a way to promote a more efficient and sustainable use of resources. The result will be less plastic waste in the seas around Thailand. This will also help protect and conserve the beauty of the country’s coastal areas through sustainable waste management.

The Upcycling the Oceans, Thailand project will run for three years (February 2017 – January 2020). The project’s pilot areas are Samet Island in Rayong province, Tao Island in Surat Thani province, and Phuket province, all very popular tourist destinations. Target groups are Thai and foreign tourists, scuba divers, communities, tour owners and operators, state agencies in tourist areas, as well as the general population.

The project’s work processes include:
  1. Educating tour owners and operators, communities, and tourists.
    • Introduce new waste management by transforming plastic waste into value-added products, in-line with the concept of the circular economy.
    • Promote the concept of responsible tourism and the conservation of the seas around Thailand.
  2. Increasing the participation of tour owners and operators, communities, and tourists.
    • Activities will promote responsible tourism and conserving Thai seas such as scuba diving to collect plastic waste, and collecting waste along coastal areas.
    • The project’s bins and tailor-made collection points will be placed in key areas in communities and tourism spots on Samet Island and Phuket to encourage waste separation, collection and recycling.
  3. Collecting, separating and upcycling waste.
    • The project collected 20 tons of waste as targeted and will continue its collection efforts until 2020 with an anticipated 100 tons collected in-line with the project’s goal.
    • Promote the collection, separation and upcycling of plastic waste through eco-innovation and the use of green technologies turning plastic waste into raw materials, which are then produced into value-added fashionable products such as t-shirts, pants, bags and other items.
      • Upcycle PET plastic waste into fabrics to produce clothing.
      • Upcycle PE plastic waste into resin to develop value-added products.
  4. Selling upcycled products made from waste.
    • The project is joining together with partners to distribute and sell upcycled products made from plastic waste both online and in shops to a new generation who are environmentally-conscious and care about a more sustainable planet.

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