Large Thai retailers to stop handing out plastic bags from 2020 hinh anh 1Plastic bags are popularly used in supermarkets in Thailand. (Photo: AFP/VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Large retailers and convenience stores in Thailand have pledged to stop giving plastic bags to customers from next year to reduce plastic waste, the country’s environment minister announced.

Major stores will stop providing single-use plastic bags, starting January 2020, after signing up to a government programme, Varawut Silpa-archa, the natural resources and environment minister, wrote on his Facebook page late on September 24.

Varawut said 43 department stores and convenience stores around the country have registered to join the programme and at the same time, urged the public to use alternatives, such as cloth bags, for shopping.

Companies in the programme include CPALL Pcl, which operates more than 10,000 7-Eleven convenience stores in Thailand, and the country’s largest retailer, Central Group.

Convenience will slightly be reduced to protect the environment, he said.

Environmental group Greenpeace says about 75 billion pieces of plastic bags end up in the waste each year in Thailand and half of this is from malls, supermarkets and convenience stores, with the other half coming from traditional markets and street vendors.

These bags are part of almost 2 million tonnes of plastic waste produced each year by Thai consumers.

Tara Buakamsri, Greenpeace’s country director in Thailand, said it is a good start, but added that the challenge for the Thai government will be to measure the progress in detail and ensure the measure is effective in ending the use of plastic bags.

Many department stores and supermarkets in Thailand already have their own ways to cut down on plastic bags. The Mall Group Co. Ltd, who owns the popular Siam Paragon mall in Bangkok, has charged 1 baht per plastic bag since July./.