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Fri, 21 Sept 2018

Thailand’s Central Group Partners PHIST in Battle Against Plastic Waste

The Phuket Hotels Association has achieved a major victory in its drive to secure a more sustainable future for Thailand’s most popular resort destination.

Central Group, Thailand’s largest retailer and owner of Central Department Store, Robinson Department Store, Tops Supermarket and Family Mart brands, has pledged to abolish the practice of giving away free plastic bags to customers in Phuket.

The move forms part of a new joint initiative with the Phuket Hotels Association, which will see Central Phuket’s customers pay for reusable bags made by the residents of local orphanages or shelter homes. Proceeds from the sale of these environmentally friendly bags will go directly to the disadvantaged Phuket residents who made them.

From left to right: Mr. Phanuwat Thakhot, Assistant Vice President Operation Central Foodhall; Ms. Wilaiporn Pitimanaaree, Senior Vice President, Central Pattana Public Company (CPN); Mr. Anthony Lark, President, Phuket Hotels Association & Managing Director and General Manager of Trisara; Ms. Sumi Soorian, Development Director, Phuket Hotels Association. Click to enlarge.

The re-usable bag scheme marks the first tangible benefit from PHIST (Phuket Hotels for Islands Sustaining Tourism). The inaugural PHIST Forum will take place on 24 January 2018 at the JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa and will feature a series of expert keynote speakers, topical talks and technical workshops on the critical issues of sustainable development, corporate sustainability, community tourism and global environmental trends.

PHIST is being supported by the Thailand Convention and Events Bureau (TCEB), Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), BMW Group Thailand, Blue Tree Phuket, as well as Central Phuket. The event, which is free to attend, is expected to attract more than 500 delegates.

Central Phuket’s Senior Vice President, Ms Wilaiporn Pitimanaaree, said, “Plastic waste is one of the biggest problems facing the world today, especially in coastal destinations like Phuket. So we are delighted to partner with PHIST and the Phuket Hotels Association to help cut plastic waste on the island. This campaign, which is part of our wider commitment to plastic reduction, will help the people of Phuket while also preserving the island’s pristine environment.”

The goal of PHIST is to raise awareness about environmental issues in Southeast Asia’s island destinations and to drive change within the industry. It also supports the Phuket Hotels Association’s on-going “People.Planet.Phuket” campaign, which aims to educate local communities and visitors about the importance of the “Three Rs” (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle).

Approximately five million plastic bags will make their way into the world’s oceans this year alone, and this presents a huge problem for the environment – especially the estimated 100,000 marine creatures that die from plastic entanglement every year. Even the plastic bags that don’t end up in the sea will usually be dumped in landfill sites and some plastic bags can take over 1,000 years to decompose.

PHIST will help the retail and hospitality industries to identify alternatives to plastic. A Green Suppliers’ Exhibition will be hosted during the event, while the organisers of PHIST will give away merchandise including recycled bags. Delegates’ name badges will be made from re-used teak wood.

“Central Group is Thailand’s largest and leading retail group, so its pledge to significantly reduce the use of plastic bags is hugely significant,” said Anthony Lark, President of the Phuket Hotels Association. “This is a wonderful example of cross-sectoral collaboration, as two of Phuket’s biggest industries – tourism and retail – come together for the benefit of the entire island. We look forward to achieving more positive partnerships through PHIST as this exciting event draws closer.”

The pledge for Central Phuket to stop giving plastic bags to customers will initially be limited to the company’s department stores in Phuket, but if successful it could be rolled out further afield – including to Central’s large network of supermarkets. In fact, the company has already committed to stop giving plastic bags to its supermarket customers on every third day of every month.

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