Chon Buri’s Ban Amphur community located in Najomtien Municipality, Sattahip district, Rajamangala University of Technology Thanyaburi (RMUTT), MQDC, and Precious Plastic Bangkok have announced that a partnership to launch a plastic waste processing community enterprise for the first time in Thailand to help upcycle plastic waste from the sea into construction material for sale. The local community is partnering with government agencies, the municipality, private companies, and educational institutions to establish a campaign of turning all marine plastic waste into building materials creating extra incomes to the community sustainably within 5 years, ready for expansion to other communities in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC). Fortunately, as successful as now, both the public and private sectors played their roles in supporting the community including contribution of research fund from National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT) under the association’s campaign entitle, “Thai Ocean Waste Free”, campaign for making building block made of ocean plastic waste. Additionally, MQDC shared knowledge on developing building materials, partnering with Precious Plastic Bangkok in workshops on using waste compaction equipment to empower the Ban Amphur community to create products with real benefits.
Mrs. Achara Tabkhan, Director of the Division of Public Health and Environment of Na Chom Thian at Sattahip District in Chonburi, said: “Setting up the Ban Amphur waste-management community enterprise to convert ocean plastic into ready-to-use building materials started with cooperation between Ban Amphur community and Na Chom Thian Municipality to gather plastic waste from the sea. Ocean plastic in the area totals 1,140 tons/year with 18.18 tons/year of fishing gear. Once the material is collected, we found a way to give it value. We received help from various educational institutions in Thailand and gained know-how from the private sector for turning plastic waste into building material and eventually using it to sustainably address the problem of ocean plastic in the local environment. Waste is damaging the coastal environment and threatening the survival of animals and marine ecosystems. This is Thailand’s first integrated multi-sector community enterprise and will help manage plastic waste at all stages from upstream to downstream.”
“Na Chom Thian Municipality has provided support in tackling environmental problems and has targeted Ban Amphur beach with one of the country’s leading all-round environmental initiatives, covering marine debris collection, paddle boarding, canal garbage collection, an upcycling community enterprise, a national run for garbage collection, and a global upscaling innovation show.
In collaboration with the Research & Innovation for Sustainability Center (RISC) by MQDC, the municipality is preparing to push forward several environmental regulations to make Na Chom Thian a model municipality for environmental management in the EEC. These measures include enhanced public spaces, a ban on smoking on the beach, a garbage collection vehicle on the beach, and a waste collector on the canal, as well as activities to highlight the value of continuous waste collection tailored to the community. These activities include a campaign for communities to collect waste in exchange for chicken eggs, reducing the cost of living and assisting chicken farmers in an environment-friendly exchange.” Mr. Wakin Thangkulawat, Senior Vice Presidents of MQDC, a project partner from the property sector, said that the developer has joined forces with local environmental volunteers, schools, educational institutions, Na Chom Thian Municipality, and the private sector to conserve and raise awareness of nature and the environment through various group activities. These include monthly ocean plastic collection campaigns, walking and running to collect rubbish, the “Ban Amphur Plogging Fair”, a “Little Heroes” youth camp for the environment, a bottle exchange project (giving seedlings for water bottles), and a project to bring milk cartons home, together aimed at reducing waste by about 2.5 tons/month. In addition to the waste project, the initiative has held 10 free English lessons to educate local children. If the COVID-19 outbreak eases, activities will proceed as planned. “MQDC sees that Ban Amphur has become a strong community in conservation over three years of collective efforts to reduce waste and turn it into useful alternative materials,” Mr. Wakin said. “We have worked with the Research & Innovation for Sustainability Center (RISC) by MQDC, specialised in eco-friendly materials, which has introduced network partners for developing standardised building materials for real estate projects.” “MQDC therefore buys upcycled building materials from this community enterprise to help the community achieve its goals,” he continued. “By generating long-term income for the community, the project benefits all parties, especially local residents, who will regain a positive environment and receive income, in line with the corporate culture of MQDC and its partners.” MQDC will buy two forms of building material made from plastic waste by the community enterprise for use in future projects and at various locations in the surrounding community, starting with an order of 250,000 baht for bricks to build walls at Ban Amphur School. Mr. Anusorn Sainapa, President of the Local Volunteer Group at Ban Amphur, said that setting up the Ban Amphur community enterprise within 2021 means that unsorted marine plastic waste can be turned into concrete blocks for walls at Ban Amphur School and paving slabs for public areas in Ban Amphur. “Within five years of the successful establishment of the community enterprise, marine debris is expected to be used to produce all construction materials,” he said. “The Ban Amphur community will provide a model that can be expanded to other partner communities, boosting impact in the EEC.” “This social enterprise was established by a group of local environmental volunteers active in Na Chom Thian at Sattahip in Chonburi. The group collects 37 tons of rubbish from the community each day and waste that blows in from the sea is a tough challenge. Rajamangala University of Technology Thanyaburi (RMUTT) has researched building materials made from plastic waste. Continuous coordination between the university and the community has established Thailand’s first community enterprise that turns plastic waste into construction materials for sale. The goal is to be a centre for learning, to create jobs, develop careers, and provide a laboratory for developing new materials. The social enterprise is also a leader in the community waste management campaign. By February, if the COVID outbreak eases, the community enterprise will have machinery to continue upcycling plastic waste.” Dr. Prachoom Khumput, Head of the Department of Eco-friendly Material Research and Development and Deputy Director of the Commercial Business Bureau of Industrial Cooperation at RMUTT, said: “The university has worked with the community in providing academic knowledge through talks, the marine waste collection campaign, an eco-youth camp, including community training in making bricks from alternative materials as well as providing equipment to establish a community enterprise. It has provided plastic waste crushing machines and equipment for forming bricks, blocks, and paving slabs to support this project.” Mr. Dominic Puwasawat Chakrabongse, Head of Precious Plastic Bangkok, said that he has supported the construction of a building for making building materials with a fund of 150,000 baht and provided machinery to grind and melt plastic into various items. The support also extends to conducting workshops for young people and others on upcycling plastic waste to set an example and provide knowledge on waste processing. “Using appropriate small machines, plastic waste can be processed in daily life at all times,” he summarized.
To learn more or support plastic waste upcycling, please contact Mr. Anusorn Sainapa, President of the Local Volunteer Group, on 081 901 5679 or follow news at FB: Rak Talay Sane Ban Amphur